Thursday, October 20, 2011

Luke Calls Me Out

I had to pick Luke up from an after school meeting yesterday, so I left the other boys at home.  When he got in the car, we talked and I said something sarcastic.  I don't remember what it was, but just to be funny.

Luke:  I hate sarcasm.  You were just sarcastic and Jake is sarcastic all of the time.  He is so sarcastic that I can't even tell when he means it and when he doesn't.  He puts me down and then I feel bad.

Me:  Well, Luke, you know he is going through a weirdo teenage phase, so why don't you just recognize that and not take it personally? 

Luke:  Soooo...I guess you never grew out of your weido teenage phase, huh Mama?

Score one for Luke.

Later on the ride home, Luke said, "Did you know that Ms. Hughes' son takes ballet?" 

I said, "No, I don't know Ms. Hughes or her son."

Luke:  Sheesh, Mama.  That was not a literal question.  Why did you take it literally?  That was a set-up so that I could tell you a fact.  I can't believe you thought it was a literal question.

Score two for Luke.

I have been effectively put in my place. 


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

For Joseph on His 9th Birthday

One of my favorite things about Joseph is that he has always felt obligated to dance when he hears music.  It is something he and I have in common.  It's like he has no control of his body and the music takes over.  That coupled with his desire to sing the thoughts in his head on a regular basis makes for great entertainment for us all.  He is going to audition for Children's Chorus this year, and I think he will have a ball.

He's also a kid who likes everything in its place.  He is organized and tidy and will clean up after his brothers without complaint because it must be just so.  His room is the neatest, his bed is usually made and he loves to do dishes.  All the makings for a good husband, I think!

I learned more recently about his soft heart.  He was watching a strange cartoon about a warrior life and a girl was killed.  He was sad and moved and affected by what he saw.  I have known that he feels things deeply, but watching his emotion over this movie was an interesting affirmation that he is a still water that runs deep.  When I was sick earlier this year, he was the only one who drew me a picture and wrote me a note telling me to get well.

Another thing that I love about Joseph is that he keeps up with his older brothers and always has.  He keeps up because it has never occurred to him that he can't.  He has always been incredibly capable in action, thought and communication.  The knowledge that he can do something because he thinks he can is something I admire.

The thing I admire most, however, is that he is brave every day.  He does the things he has to do when he has to do them whether he likes it or not.  He has things that are sometimes hard to do or hard to know.  He doesn't complain, he doesn't object.  He does it.  He faces it.  And he goes on.  It's a lesson we could all learn.

Happy Birthday, Joseph.

Click the link below to see some awesome dance moves!!/video/video.php?v=10150126467448268

Monday, June 20, 2011

For Luke on his 11th Birthday

Luke is my gregarious one.  He has never met a stranger.  And the kid can talk a blue streak.  Sometimes when you are around him a lot, you really start to believe silence is golden.  But that is only a fleeting thought in my mind, because Luke has the personality he is meant to have.  Having that personality allows him to be fearless when he gets on a stage and sings to a full house.  I would never have done that at his age.  Probably ever.  He does it without a second thought.  And if he makes a mistake, he doesn't beat himself up about it, he gets up and does it the next time still having no fear.  He believes he can grow up to be a performer, and I think that anyone with his degree of belief will not let anything get in his way.  Nothing he accomplishes would surprise me.

The thing I find interesting about Luke is that he has this loud and spirited personality, but when he has to get down to work, he gets the job done.  I remember in 2nd grade when he learned the lesson, "All I do is get to school and tell a few jokes and then get down to business."  And he has ever since.  His teacher this year was surprised when I mentioned his propensity to talk.  She just saw his conscientious desire to finish his work and get good grades.

The thing about Luke that makes me proudest, is that he is kind.  He feels compassion for those he sees being treated badly.  I think that he is turning into a man who will do the right thing even in the face of others doing wrong.  He knows the difference between right and wrong.  And he acts on it.  He will not be done wrong, and he won't let any treat someone else wrong.

As a child it is often disrespectful to talk to adults a certain way, but there are times I have watched him and he has been right.  And who am I to squelch his expression of what should be.

Happy Birthday Luke.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

For Jake on his 13th Birthday

Today is Jake's 13th birthday.  A teenager.  8th grade.  This year he started shaving, got cool hair and has grown to almost my height. It's hard to believe that he has only one more year of middle school.  Everyone always tells you how fast it goes by, and it really does. 

Jake is my quiet child.  But his quiet is not an indication of passivity or weakness.  His quiet is an indication of a strength and resolve that he doesn't feel the need to advertise.  When he got to middle school, I asked about making friends.  He told me he was making friends, but that many kids were "inappropriate."  I laughed.  And discussion of his definition of "inappropriate" ensued.  He didn't want to discuss it because, "I would never say those things to you."

I was struck that he would feel respectful enough of me to refrain from this inappropriate talk.  I insisted on the talk, because I am the one he has to listen and make sure that he is okay.  I was struck that he was less interested in the coolness of crappy language and more in behaving respectfully.  He is growing into the kind of person I hope he will be (not to say that I am deluded enough to think we won't have our moments, but as he pointed out, Luke will probably be the troublesome one).

And Jake is funny.  When I make a mistake or trip over my own two feet, I often catch him out of the corner of my eye with a smirk. He gets the joke, he is developing a sarcastic sense of humor which I totally appreciate.  He also dishes my quirks right back.  I am such a grammar freak, that if I send him a text with an error, his response is now, "grammatical error, can not compute, grammatical error, can not compute."

At his age, I know many boys who do not want to be stuck with their brothers or mothers.  Jake is not one of those.  He has started to play guitar and trumpet and video games alone in his room some, but he wants to have his brothers around.  He is kind to everyone and gets a kick out of the youngest.  It is fun for me that sometimes when Joseph says something funny that he didn't mean to be, Jake will look over his head to catch my eye and laugh quietly.  We are in on it together now.  And any time I ever need him to stay home with them, he does not complain or argue. 

My goal is to raise boys who know how to take personal responsibility for their actions, know the difference between right and wrong, will stand up for someone who is wronged and will do the right thing when no one is looking.  He is on his way.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Personal Growth Assignments AKA Cut the Crap!

Two summers ago, the boys were driving me crazy with little behavior issues.  It wasn't anything big, just the simple (to me) little things.  They are all smart little suckers who make me my head tired from trying to keep one step ahead.  They are all very different from each other, so no one strategy works for all three of them.  After feeling like I was making the same individual corrections over and over to each one and seeing no sign of enlightenment, I decided to bring them in on my effort.  It was the end of the school year.  No more homework.  No more after school running.  Perfect time.  Time for some personal put it nicely. 

Jake was (and somewhat still is) going through a period of little to no initiative.  He isn't the kind of kid to see something that needs to be done and to do it without being told.  He is quick at school, so sees little value in homework.  He leaves clothes on the floor of the bathroom...daily.  So that summer, his job was to take initiative. 

Luke is a classic middle child.  The difference between him and really classic middle children is that while he may feel slighted for attention on the surface, his personality is so big that it demands attention.  He lacks nothing.  He does however, in his artistic and emotional personality, think that everything is a big deal and must have justice (code for really he is a bit of a tattler).  His job that summer was to learn to LET THINGS GO!!

Joseph, being the youngest, has the hardest time feeling heard.  There are many times I have all three talking at once and it's mental overload.  This includes Joseph, but he doesn't feel heard enough.  To correct this feeling of invisibility, he hit people.  He wasn't heard, he hit.  He wasn't acknowledged, he hit.  His feelings got hurt, he hit.  Guess what his job was?  Yep!  Stop hitting.

At the end of the summer, they had some improvement believe it or not.  And at the very least, they were more aware of these behaviors as they occurred.  Luke would start a litanyy of tattling and would interrupt himself to say, "I'm letting it go, I'm letting it go."

So here we are two summers later.  I guess last year they were pretty ok because I didn't assign anything.  Or maybe I just didn't think of it.  That's probably more like it.  I forgot.  This year...some problems the same, some new.  They have been on Spring Break this week, and all of the togetherness brought to light some things we need to work on. The other night at dinner they were just having a moment....yes, it must have been them (and not me).  I gave new assignments for this summer in a heated speech regarding each one's transgressions and the new  behavior I expected. 

I was telling my parents about the new jobs today at lunch.  I asked Jake as he ran by.

"What's your personal growth assignment this summer?"

"Not to be an obnoxious teenage weirdo," he said.

That pretty much sums it up.  He can not walk by without tapping you on the wrong shoulder and "making you look."  This is not really ever fun, but it is REALLY annoying when I am trying to check out at the grocery store, or I am talking to another adult.  He can not not touch people to annoy.  He can not stop using sarcasm that is usually pretty funny, but also walks dangerously close to the line of disrespect.  Having a sarcastic sense of humor myself, I sometimes let him get over that line...oops!  So he is going to learn where the lines of appropriate teenage weirdness fall. 

Luke had the same job as before.  He still has not learned to let things go, and with preteen hormonal crap going on inside his little self, his behavior is exaggerated.  So back to the drawing board for Luke!  No reporting every transgression, no telling me how to right the serious wrongs of his brothers.  No more sassy attitude. 

In telling my parents, I couldn't think of what Joseph's job.  As he wandered by, I said, "Joseph!"

No answer.

"Joseph, what was you job for the summer?"

No answer.  He didn't even turn around..

Louder, "JOSEPH!"

I turned around to my parents.  "I just remembered what his job learn to listen"

Nuff said.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jake Hurts My Head

These are the types of conversations I have with Jake on the way to school each day. Keep in mind that I am generally not fully awake. Jake: Did you know that Earth's curvature drops 16 feet every (I forgot how many because I was half-asleep) x kilometers. And a cannon shoots the cannon ball that drops after 16 feet. So if you could get a cannon to shoot at this rate, then the ball would follow the curvature of the Earth, and if there were no friction in the air, it would be like it was in orbit. And if you made a road go straight,it would be 16 feet off the Earth at this point and 32 at twice that until it was just off the Earth and in space.

I guess I am good at nodding and saying "uh-huh" because he keeps talking and talking and I am just thinking "seriously, this is what you think at 7:30 in the morning?"

And Jake, if you read this, this is what I love about keep talking and I will keep nodding and smiling!