I Used To Want To Be Like You

Most days I am just delighted that Chica gets to go to the same school as me.  I enjoy the funny conversations she carries on early in the morning with my friends who make over her each day.  I look forward to lunch and extra recess time because I might catch her eye and give her an “Air Fist Bump Explosion”, our not-so-secret long distance hand shake we decided on at the beginning of the year.  I’m thankful too for little glimpses into her budding friendships with a rainbow of classmates.  But every once in a while it’s hard.

This afternoon I was feeling a little more pressure than normal because I knew my 8:15 meeting tomorrow morning would cut into my usual prep time.  Chica was flitting around my room sharpening pencils, laying on our exercise balls, and snacking on two leftover bags of Cheerios at the same time.  Some days when she hangs out in my room after school she is completely focused on something, and I hear nothing from her.  Last week I got at least three solid days of peace from a bag of dried beans and a few imitation Beanie Babies.  Today was a different story.

I’m definitely not proud of this moment, but here’s how it went down…

Chica finds a number balance on the counter and the floodgates open, pouring out the questions in full force.  Picture me at my computer organizing a pile of checks and receipts for our field trip, giving Chica only about 1/32 of my attention.

Chica:  What’s this?
Me:  It’s a balance.
Chica:  What’s a balance?
Me:  It’s a math thing.
Chica:  What’s it do?
Me:  Math.
Chica:  What’s this arrow for?
Me:  I don’t know.
Chica:  What’s this red part for?
Me:  I don’t know.
Chica:  Is the 10 a secret?
Me:  What?  I don’t know what you are talking about.
Chica:  The 10’s a secret, right?
Me:  I don’t know.
Chica:  What’s this thing called again?
Me:  A balance.
Chica:  Why do you have it?
Me:  (Thinking…maybe if I ignore her, she’ll stop.)
Chica:  How do you work it?
Chica:  What’s this white part for?
Chica:  Why does it have this?
Me:  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I. DON’T. KNOW.  You are making me CRAZY.  You are really making me really really crazy.  I have work to do and you are asking me a million questions and I can’t concentrate and you are making me crazy so can you please just stop the questions so I can work?  Find something quiet to do that doesn’t involve asking so many questions.  PLEASE!

Yeah.  So, I really did say that.  Ouch.

Apparently she gets the picture, and the questions stop, but next I hear from behind me the clickety-clack of her fingers on the keyboard.

Chica:  (Composing an e-mail aloud as she types…)  Dear Mrs. Proffitt,  I used to want to be like you, but now I don’t want to be like you.

Yep.  She really did say that.  Double ouch.

At some other point today Chica and I talked about forgiveness.  She wanted to know if I would always always forgive her, not matter what “bad stuff” she did.  I told her I would, and I hoped sincerely that I will keep my promise to her on that one.  I forgave her today for asking a million questions, and she forgave me for yelling.  Phew.

I’m thankful tonight that I can count on always always being forgiven by the only perfect parent that exists….no matter what “bad stuff” I do.

Five Minute Friday: Connect

Today if I had carried my camera, my picture of the day would have been Chica’s Man-You-Are-Cool-Mom smile while putting stamps on postcards at the post office.  I didn’t carry my camera, however, because I was too concerned with getting five different errands accomplished on my last “free” Friday before I start back to school.  Guess I had forgotten what I wrote about here.

On our fourth stop for the morning, I told Chica we had to buy some stamps at the post office.  She, of course, asked what the post office was and why we needed to buy stamps there.  It sort of cracked me up (but didn’t surprise me at all) that she didn’t know about either.  When was the last time I actually mailed something that didn’t come with a “No Postage Necessary” mark?  No idea.

So after I purchased my $26.00 worth of stamps (ouch!), we headed back out to the lobby area to start sticking.  “Where are the stamps?” she asked.  I almost let her have it for asking questions that she knew the answer to, but then I realized she was expecting the rubberstamp kind.  Ha.

I sorted out my letters and postcards to be stamped, and handed her the postcard pile.  I showed her where to put them and how to watch out for the direction the stamps were going.  She quickly got to work while Bubba and I did the same with the envelope pile.

So I should have known it was coming when I gave her a pile that was twice as big as mine.  I finished my eight or so cards, and I began peeling off four postcard stamps at a time to help her get her pile done.  Not acceptable, Mom!  Those were hers, and she informed me that she intended to finish them.

To my credit, I had enough clarity of mind to realize that convincing her to let me help her was a not a battle that was really worth fighting.  Besides hungry bellies, we didn’t really have any deadlines today.  On the other hand, I probably used the words hurry up or quickly at least 16 times during the duration of the three minute project.  Sheesh.

So as I stood there spewing off my speed it up mantra, I was trying, at the same time, to tell myself to just chill.  Lisa Jo’s Five Minute Friday word, connect, came to mind.  Sure, we were making real world useful learning connections like, “How does mail actually make it to my mailbox everyday?”  But more importantly, we were making a tiny memory that would connect us.  I’m sure I’ll hear her say two or three months from now, “Member that time I put all those stamps on your green and yellow cards?”  Yes, Chica, I do ‘member.  (And I ‘member how I wanted to do the last fifteen for you, but the Jesus growing in me helped me to choose to connect instead.)

Oh, and tomorrow I’m hoping we’ll be able to make a reconnection.  You see, lately a flying blue My Little Pony has replaced Barbie as the toy of choice.  She accompanied Chica on all permitted errands today, including the post office.  Apparently My Little Pony got distracted by the stamps, mail slots, and P.O. boxes because she didn’t hear me when I said it was time to go.  We didn’t realize she was left behind until we were clear on the other side of town, so she is spending the night in the post office tonight.  Here’s to hoping that some mom or dad who works at the post office will have spotted her today.  Hopefully they’ll make the connection that any toy that winds up in the post office must be dearly loved and put her in safe keeping to be rescued tomorrow.

Linking up with Lisa-Jo’s Five Minute Friday: Connect.  I…again…didn’t stick to the five minute limit.  Guess I need to give myself the hurry up speech sometimes too, huh?

Five Minute Friday

Image:  US MAIL © wayne’s eye view | Flickr Creative Commons

Five Minute Friday: Beyond These Phases

Bubba @ 8 ½ months

We are currently suffering through the I Won’t Take a Nap Unless Someone Warm Is Holding Me phase.  This important stage of development is accompanied by the I Refuse To Eat Anything Unless I’m Feeding Myself phase and the Three Quarters of What I Try To Feed Myself Ends Up Smashed In My Lap phase.

Chica @ 4 years

She is smack in the middle of the I Don’t Really Need a Nap, But I’ll Lose It At Dinner If I Don’t Rest phase.  This is also the time of the I’ll Roll My Eyes At You Just To See If You Notice phase and the Fourteen Questions Per Minute phase.

At nap time and dinner time I am so ready to move beyond these phases.  I wonder how we got here and if they will ever end.

But then when they are both sleeping (because everything is just a little bit better then, right?), I remember that moving beyond these phases will certainly mean leaving behind other good ones.

Like the Let Me Give You a Big Sloppy Kiss All Over Your Face phase.   And the I’m Not Afraid To Strike Up a Friendly Conversation With A Total Stranger phase.

God, keep teaching me to find JOY in each of these phases of our little family, good and bad.  When we move beyond these and on to the next ones, may you pour on the joy again.

Oh, I almost missed one.  Who could forget the I Love To Make Farty Noises On Your Flabby Arm Skin phase?   I’m not sure if I’m ready to move beyond this one or not.  I think it’s funny at 8 months.  I’m sure he’ll think it’s funny at 8 years when I’m ready to be over it.

Linking up with Lisa Jo for Five Minute Friday…even though my five minutes somehow turned into five times ten.  I tried.

Five Minute Friday

Super Why

“Mom, are all questions good questions?”

I didn’t have to give that (good) question much thought today.  I know the pat teacher answer of, “The only dumb question is the one you are too afraid to ask.”  But since fear of asking a question has never entered Chica’s oh-so-curious head, I knew that was a lesson for another time.

“The only questions that aren’t good are the ones you already know the answer to,” I told her quickly and confidently.

I’ve been pondering my answer today since I gave it.  Pondering answers….that’s the kind of thing you can do on vacation when your to-do list consists of feed your children, feed yourself, rest, and repeat…and you have Grandma there to help you get a childfree moment or two.

I can pinpoint the event that sparked both her question and my answer.  It’s one of those crazy-mom moments that I sorely wish I could relive and do differently.  At the beginning of the summer, Chica had learned how to write her last name, and we were headed to the library to get her very own library card.  We had been building up the excitement of this for several hours, yet she still asked on the way there, “Mom, where are we going?”

At first I assumed she was kidding and teasing me in her quirky, four year old way.  “You know where we are going,” I teased her back.  Well, apparently either she really didn’t know or she was really holding tightly to this joke of hers.  She kept repeating that she didn’t know, and I just kept insisting that she did.  If I could hit the replay button, here’s where I would just say, “The library,” and be done with it.  Instead some crazy woman took over my body and I found myself screaming down 5th Street, “YOU KNOW where we are going.  Tell me RIGHT NOW or I’m turning this car around and we are going NOWHERE.”  Sheesh.  What was that all about?  I definitely didn’t choose my battles wisely that day.

So I still have no idea whether or not she actually knew where we were going, but I took that opportunity, once I had calmed down about 20 notches to talk about how annoying it is to people to ask questions you already know the answer to.  I had no idea when it was all finished if she understood what I was saying, but seizing the teachable moment helped me resume an attitude appropriate for an occasion as momentous as getting one’s own library card.  Crazy woman went back into hiding, and cool and calm mom carried on with normal life.

So when she asked the question that she did today and quickly accepted my answer, I knew her little brain had in fact internalized at least a bit of our conversation that day on the way to the library.  With any luck, she internalized more of the “how not to be annoying” lesson and less of the “my mom’s a wacko” lesson.

So here I am back to pondering my answer.  If you’ve ever had a four year old or you’ve even just spent four minutes with a four year old, you know that the questions are incessant.  Do I, in fact, believe in the value of her curiosity enough to give her permission to ask freely?   I think I do, so I guess I need to start working on my response when the river starts flowing.  Often after the fifth or sixth why question in a row, I snap back, “Why do you ask so many questions?!?!”  That doesn’t exactly send the message that all questions are good questions, huh?

Then what about the questions that you already know the answer to?  Is there ever a time when these questions are actually good?  Maybe there’s value in hearing another person’s explanation if the listener is truly open.  Maybe there are times we have to ask ourselves honest questions that we already know the answer to, just so we can hear the answer.  I’m not sure I can translate all that into four year old speak, so I’ll save those edits to my answer for another time and place.

I leave you with a reminder that questions aren’t always as they seem…

For Chica’s 73rd question of the day, she randomly asked, “Mom, what does cut mean?”  Really, Chica?  Really?  I nearly launched into my rant about being annoying, when something made me decide to give her a chance.  I answered her question with a question.  “Where did you hear it?”

“Last night, when you were reading me that Pinkalicious School Rules book, it said the unicorn couldn’t cut the line with the other kids.”  Brilliant question, Chica.  Good for you.

Now…just try answering that one without using the word butt.  : )