Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In Which I Force My Children to Relive My Childhood

When I was a kid, The Harlem Globetrotters were big. They were on Scooby Doo, Gilligan's Island, and even had their very own cartoon on Saturday morning, where, to the best of my knowledge, they solved mysteries with their phenomenal basketball skills. It was awesome.

Then, one day, The Harlem Globetrotters came to the Oakland Coliseum and my dad took me. I can't remember if he took anyone else in the family. All I remember is the amazing basketball trick shots and hilarious pranks. From then on, whenever I shot hoops in the yard, Sweet Georgia Brown was the soundtrack playing in my head.

Naturally, I've wanted my boys to have the same experience with the Harlem Globetrotters. When I heard they'd be coming to Portland, I found the best tickets I could afford (i.e. the cheapest tickets they offered--all those taxes and fees really add up!) and started pumping up the kids about the awesomeness of the Harlem Globetrotters.

About ten days before the show, Robert came home from work with good news. We'd won tickets from Intel to see--wait for it--The Harlem Globetrotters. Not only would the tickets get us into the game, they would also entitle us to a meet and greet with some of the players. So I posted my other tickets on craigslist, sold them for face value, and met some guy for a late night swap in a Burger King parking lot. 

And so Saturday we saw the Globetrotters.

The show was as cheesy and perfect as I remembered. But the best part of the whole day came when Ethan leaned over and said, "Thanks for taking us mom, this is awesome."

Jonah and Isaac were completely engaged too. When we got home, Ethan went right outside to shoot hoops. He stood all the way across the yard and heaved the ball towards the hoop over and over. I could almost hear Sweet Georgia Brown playing in his head. Sunday, Jonah made a Globetrotter's word search with words like GPod (one of the players) Globie (the mascot) and Elite (the opposing team). On Monday, Isaac hugged Robert and told him thanks for taking him to the Globetrotters.

Before the game we'd had the opportunity to meet three of the players and get our picture taken with them. I went online to see the photo and it's $14. But you know what, I think I'll buy it anyway.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Thoughts on Seeds

Isaac planted a little sunflower seed in a pot and put it on the kitchen window sill. He has watched and watered and grown excited as the plant has germinated and grown. The other day, Isaac was dousing it with water. 

"Not too much," I warned. "Plants can die from too much water, just like they can die from not getting enough."

I went on to explain that letting the soil dry out between waterings helped the roots grow deep and strong. "When we move the plant outside, it won't be strong enough to survive if it hasn't grown strong roots and it will never reach its full potential." 

I reminded Isaac about his broken arm and how his repaired bone is stronger than the original bone because of the work it did to heal.  This seemed to make sense.

As I sent my boy out the door to the school bus, I thought about how that same thought applies to kids too. As a parent, I need to allow my children to struggle. If I provide them with their every need, want and desire, it's the same as over watering a plant. Their roots will be shallow and when trials and challenges come, they won't be able to survive on their own. 

I think it's natural to want to make things easy for our children. It's hard to watch them struggle. It goes against human nature to sit back and let them work things out when we could so easily alleviate their suffering. Sometimes it seems like loving = giving, and giving, and giving. Just like Isaac wanted to water his plant every day, regardless of need.

I wondered if I was over watering my children, or letting them develop deep roots. Because someday, I'll need to transplant these little ones out into the big world and I want them to be prepared. I do not want them to be house plants forever.

After that, my mind took one more leap. It was an uncomfortable leap because it came with an understanding. Heavenly Father has the exact same desires for me. He wants me to reach my full potential and the only way to do that is if I am challenged and if he allows me to struggle. 

Growth hurts. Sometimes I think I'm perfectly fine being a little house plant, thank you very much. Keep me indoors at a constant temperature, away from the storms. But Heavenly Father is perfect and knows I need to dry out between waterings. 

I guess that's why He's often called the Master Gardener.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Screen Free

The problem with waking up at 3am and not falling back asleep until 7am is you have plenty of time to come up with harebrained ideas to make your kid's lives miserable. You also have time to wonder what kind of ideas actual hares come up with that indicate inferior brain function.

Anyway, Screen Free week was hatched at 4-something in the morning. The idea had been percolating for a while, but 4-something is when I finally figured out how I would approach the boys. Because suggesting no computer, no TV, no Wii, and no DS to my clan, on some days, could be considered a death wish. Surprisingly, the boys seemed okay with it. As long as I participated too. I can't totally get off the computer because of the work I do writing, proofreading and checking emails for another job I have. But I can give up two of my biggest time wasters: Facebook and online Scrabble.

Tonight at dinner, we came up with ideas of things to do instead of sitting in front of a screen. There were rainy day ideas and sunny day ideas. After the kids mentioned playing with friends, playing baseball, playing with Legos, Beyblades, Hexbugs and Hot Wheels, I suggested a few things they may had forgotten: homework, read a book, practice piano.

Tomorrow morning we begin.

I predict pain all around.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Things I Will Never Do Again

Listen to a Time Share Presentation - No helicopter ride, gift card for $100, snorkel excursion, or fruit basket is worth the time I will spend being told I'm an idiot for not jumping on your fabulous offer to vacation for one week a year for the rest of my life. Once was enough to know that your 90 minutes turns into my three, miserably long hours. And guess what. Your fraction of a hotel room is way more expensive than what I could find on Travelocity. Word.

Sell Something on Ebay - My first foray into this money-making endeavor was 2 weeks ago. It was awkward and messy and more work that it was worth. It reminded me why I don't extreme coupon. I'll stick to Craigslist, thank you very much. Besides, I've probably got some damning feedback along the lines of "cranky old lady, very unpleasant to work with. Might not be playing with a full deck."

Remodel a Bathroom Without Discussing it First - All's well that ends well. I'll just consult before I rip up flooring next time.

Try to Extreme Coupon - Just not worth it for me. Might be worth it for you. I'd rather just not buy a bunch of stuff even if it is free. I realize this will make it harder for me to donate to food drives and women's shelters and missionaries and college students. Additionally, I realize that when the bomb drops, I will not have a year's supply of BBQ sauce. I'll just have to live with that.

Assume You aren't Awesome - I've come across too many people in my life who have shattered my incorrect, narrow-minded first impressions. There are some great women and men out there doing great things in their own small ways, in their own small corners of this world. I'm so glad to know so many of you. We may be different in some ways, or the same in others, but you have taught me that people are good. No, not good. Awesome. Thank you.

Climb up on a Roof - I am afraid of heights. As it turns out, I'm also afraid of slants. I will always be afraid of heights and slants. Besides, there is no good reason to go on a roof. That's right. Not even Christmas.

Read a Jodi Picoult Book - If I want to feel sick to my stomach over impossible, heartwrenching decisions I've got plenty of friends who are going through real life challenges I can talk to. I don't need any more overwhelming heartache in my life, thank you very much.

Click this link - And while we're at it, if you post a link to a video on Facebook, or send me a link via email, and preface it with any version of the following: A must watch, tear-jerker, get your box of tissues ready, you've never seen anything so emotionally draining in your whole life--I will not be clicking on it. I cry easily. I cry at OnStar commercials (It's like a direct link to a guardian angel people!) Why would I watch something specifically to make me cry?

Did I cover it all? Probably not. What are some things you will never do again?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Boxes: What I Want My Boys To Know About Girls*

If my boys could sit and listen for more than 30 seconds, if they could understand the symbols in a beautifully crafted metaphor, if they could think about girls as other human beings instead of carriers of the deadly cootie virus, this is what I would tell them:

Girls are like boxes. They come in all shapes and sizes and there is value in every single one. 

Some boxes are plain to look at while others are beautiful, flashy and exciting.

However, all boxes have one thing in common: there is always something on the inside you can't see. Your job is to find out what's inside the box. If you judge a box purely on what it looks like on the outside, you will have missed the most important part of the whole box. 

Find out what's inside the box by being friendly with the box. You can watch the box in different situations. You can do things with the box like eat lunch, play sports, discuss string theory and/or the exact moment Elizabeth Bennet falls for Mr. Darcy. 

With some boxes, you will quickly learn what's inside, while others may take some time.

Sometimes you might think you know exactly what's inside a box without even looking. But look anyway. The contents of the box might be a pleasant surprise.

Plain boxes sometimes contain sweet surprises . . . 

. . . or something precious.

Some boxes are filled with fluff. Or maybe something soft and comfortable, useful and hardworking. 

And sometimes, disappointingly, boxes are filled with things that aren't pretty at all. But don't judge these boxes harshly. There could be a good reason why a box is filled with dirt. Often it just needs time before a seed inside becomes a beautiful flower. So check back every once in a while, and be glad there are so many different boxes in your life.

* What I want girls to know about my boys.**
** Also, what people should know about people.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How to Be a boy: New Clothes

If you are a boy, do not, under any circumstances, go clothes shopping with your mom. In fact, pay no attention to your pants with rips in the knees and plenty of flood clearance. They're comfortable. Who cares what they look like.

So, when you come home from school and notice two new pairs of pants on your bed, do not acknowledge them. Later, when your mom asks you if you saw the pants, do not commit. You aren't sure. You can't remember. You'll go up and see in a little bit. As soon as you finish playing your game.

Let your mom ask you three more times if you've tried on the pants yet. But whatever you do, do not try on the pants.

At 10pm, your mom will head for bed. Act like you're listening when she begs you not to rip off the tags before trying the pants on, and nod when she asks you to tell her how they fit. Do not try the pants on. Do not move the pants off the bed.

Until it's time for you to get in bed. Then, wad the pants up and throw them into the corner of your room.

Tomorrow, when you get up. Put on your old pants with the rip and two inches of flood clearance.

It is raining, after all.

For more on how to be a boy:
How to extinguish a candle
How to eat popcorn
How to build a blanket fort
How to find your shirt
How to wait in line
How to Butter your bagel