Saturday, April 18, 2009

Overheard at Wal-Mart

While standing still and checking items off my shopping the list the other day I happened to overhear an interesting conversation. No, I wasn't eavesdropping- because I wasn't intentionally listening. It was only later that I realized the full importance of what I'd overheard.

The speakers were both older males. They were conservatively dressed (no earrings or holes in their clothes). If I had to guess their religion I think it wouldn't be hard to accurately classify them. One of them was talking about a young family that he had recently visited. The wife was overwhelmed caring for her small children (apparently she had several) and her house. It was apparent to this man that the woman was overwhelmed because her house was a mess, her children had dirty faces, her lawn wasn't mowed, and the car had dirt on it too.

In response the the first man's concerns the second man responded by affirming that this family had been active in their church in the past, but currently did not regularly attend. The first man really wanted to gather ideas for how he could help this family. The second man told him that the best way to provide assistance was to emphasize how important church attendance was. He elaborated by stating that obviously the husband was not acting properly in his capacity as the religious head of his household. The wife was not performing her duties well because she was not as involved in church as she should be. If only she would spend more time praying and in service to her family- everything would look up.

This was about the time I finished updating my shopping list and moved on. I'm not sure what the concerned man who started the conversation said in reply. I hope he told the first man that this family would be better able to function (and come to church and devotion to God) if people could provide some sort of relief for the overwhelmed mother (and possibly her husband- I don't know his story at all). I hope both those men realized that young mothers (especially when dealing with more than one child under the age of five) actually require sleep before they can efficiently do anything. I also hope that the second man- the one who thought the family was having problems because they weren't attending church regularly enough- I hope that he has at some point had to perform all the functions of his day with one hand tied behind his back and one leg chained to a thirty pound rock that goes everywhere with him (including the bathroom). 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

So, what do you do all day?

My best friend's mother actually asked me that question about 4 years ago. She wasn't being rude or insensitive or even asking why the dishes weren't done and the dining room table was covered in laundry (because we were at her house and she couldn't see the mess in mine). She truly wanted to know how the days filled themselves in our life.

Well, let me tell you...

This morning started late. I slept in until 8:16. My husband isn't working at the moment and since I was up at 6, finally giving in and taking some allergy meds, he let me sleep in while he got up with the kids.

Last night I went to a party with my mother-in-law. She arrived just as dinner was finishing and I blithely left the house to go enjoy the company of other grown women. I returned about 9:30. My kind, loving, wonderful husband offered to fix me a hot fudge sundae- and I said yes. He fixed the ice cream, turned out the kitchen lights, and I didn't give that room another thought- until this morning.

I stumbled into our kitchen at about 8:17. Blearily looking in the mug cupboard I realized that the dishwasher hadn't been unloaded and there were only clunky mugs left on the shelf. I hate clunky mugs so I opened the dishwasher and found that the dishes were still dirty (I actually took a mug out and almost poured coffee in it before I realized- Benadryl is not really my friend). At that point I looked- really looked- around the kitchen. There were dishes (with food still on them!) on the table. The sink was full of dishes (not drip drying after washing either). The stove was covered with something greasy. There were leftovers in the dishes on the stove. This is not the sight that normally greets me upon waking.

I started the dishwasher, washed some dishes by hand (after first washing and filling my coffee mug), washed the table, washed the stove, cleaned the window, watered the plants, nuked my cold coffee, picked up garbage papers off the floor (darned kids!), swept the sand off the floor (darned kids!), nuked my cold coffee, prepared some cereal for the kids, opened string cheese wrappers, cleaned out the moldy leftovers in the fridge, nuked my cold coffee, started a load of laundry that included the dish drying towels and dish cloths, folded the load left in the dryer (except for the hanging shirts which are still on the couch), poured my cold and burned coffee down the sink, and finally had a bowl of granola and yogurt for breakfast.

At 9:38 I forced my oldest child to sit down at the kitchen table and read to me. He was particularly brilliant today and told me very confidently that y e l l o w spells tan F a t h e r reads as funny, n sounds like r, and helps and car are the same word. Honest to Betsy- he read all the same words three days ago and did just fine with them. Today I threatened to make him do preschool over again because he obviously needs to brush up on his alphabet skills.

At 10:30 I mixed up a big batch of Jello (which still hasn't set up). The little boys helped immensely by dumping in cottage cheese and oranges. Then they continued helping by spreading toys and papers all over the kitchen floor so that I could practice my agility skills while trying to get the jello from the counter into the fridge. I may have raised my voice a wee, little bit when I instructed them to clear floor or suffer untold agony.

At 11:00 I sent Chris back to his room to put on underwear before leaving for school. Why is it that a seven year old can't seem to remember the underwear go on before the pants? "I just forget sometimes," he says. After he emerged fully dressed we continued our daily geography exploration by trying to figure out where Europe ends and Asia begins. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm still not sure. We also reviewed all the South American countries and the states in the USA.

At 11:55 we left to take Chris to school for P.E. Today he finally had an opportunity to speak with his p.e. teacher and asked him if it would be ok for him to leave and use the bathroom if he needs to. The teacher told him that it would be fine, he just needs to ask first. Weeks (possibly months) of angst and now, that easily, Chris's anxiety is relieved. Thank God for the wonderful speech language pathologists that help smooth the way during these times of need. Truly, Mrs. J is a blessing and there are things she sees and mentions that I would never consider as possible causes of stress.

At 1:00 I returned to the school to pick Chris up (after running home to make lunch for the little boys and start a batch of bread). We talked about his class and how relieved he feels since he had "a little talk" with Coach. Then we returned home and began looking at Indian Head Nickels, searching for dates and mint marks. Of course we also had to bring out the huge map of the USA and place his entire collection of state quarters on the appropriate states. The little boys built Lego ships, space ships, airplanes, rockets, and space stations while pretending to live on different planets.

At 2:30 I had a ferocious headache and went to take a nap. My husband agreed to watch the kids and bake the bread.

At 4:00 I got up and went to bake the bread. Then I put all the dirty dishes that had collected in the dishwasher (apparently this is a highly skilled task that very few are capable of doing). I also washed all the bread making dishes, talked on the phone with a couple of friends who called, folded mounds of laundry, started my fifth load of laundry for the day (I do love the homemade detergent), quizzed Chris on math, complimented Captains Jake and Sam on their rocket ships, read several stories,

At 5:00 I started making Alfredo sauce, sauteing chicken, boiling noodles, and warming frozen peas. Dave and the kids set the table.

At 6:30 I answered multiple, repeated, annoying questions about space, stars, planets, dwarf planets, comets, sun spots, and why Mexicans speak Spanish.

At 7:00 I told the children to find their father, came out to the unheated patio, shot some people using the Mafia Wars application on facebook, and finally started to update my blog.

At 7:02 I wiped Jake's nose, found Blankie, and answered more questions about why Pluto is a dwarf planet instead of a "real" planet.

At 7:07 I told the annoying children that, yes, they can have ice cream- "Go ask your father."

At 7:10 I used my "outdoor voice" to order the same three children off my patio.

At 7:12 I felt bad and went and closed the door to the living room so that the sound of crying was muffled.

At 7:51 I am ready to post my blog update. After this I will return to the house, clean up the ice cream mess in the kitchen, fold some laundry, dry some laundry, wash the dinner dishes, kiss the kids good night, thank my husband for putting the kids to bed, and then- I'll probably come back out and check my email.

This is what I did all day today- although I think I forgot to write a few things down. Isn't the life of a stay at home mother exciting? :-)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Sand Truck Cometh...

We had sand delivered this morning. Dave recently moved (and cemented in) the swingset out into the pasture, near where the garden is going to be. It needed sand to cushion the base. We also live on some of the heaviest clay soil in the known universe. There's kaliche (sp?) six inches below the surface in most areas and I can make pinch pots that stand the test of time whenever we irrigate. It provided hours of entertainment when I was a child. Now however, I'd like to grow some vegetables and they tend to get root rot when the soil is mainly clay (no drainage).

So... the sand truck cometh. I'm not sure I'll be able to get Chris to school today. It would be a shame to discourage him from shoveling. :-)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Is P.E. essential to life?

Chris was sick and stayed home from school all but one day last week. Today he felt well enough to build in the dirt around the swing set but still told me he was too sick to attend school. I was a bit puzzled but decided that being the mom meant I could make the choice for him, "You look healthy enough for school. Get dressed!" He kept hemming and hawing until I finally asked him if wanted be un-enrolled for the rest of the year. Upon receiving an affirmative answer I queried whether he'd miss music? Yes, he certainly would. Library? Yes, that too would be missed. Ahhh.... I understand now..... "P.E.?"

Nope, he'd rather quit going to school altogether than go to P.E. Apparently he and "Coach" are not fans of each other. What's more, Chris once had to go to the bathroom, "really, really bad," last year and when Coach wouldn't excuse him to use the restroom Chris almost had an accident.

After being out all week with the flu Chris was not willing to risk having an accident during the one whole hour a day he attends school. We compromised. I sent a note asking that Chris be allowed to leave class and visit the restroom without explaining himself. I mentioned that he's feeling a bit anxious about the situation. When we arrived at school I spoke with his speech therapist (who facilitates everything for him) and told her about his dilemna. She found out for us that Chris had music today and so Chris went happily to class.

The therapist kept my note and said she'll talk to Coach today and get him "educated" by tomorrow. Tomorrow Chris is to report to her room where they'll role play the conversation where Chris is going to tell Coach that sometimes he needs to leave class and go to the restroom. Then Chris is going to give Coach the note and explain that sometimes he needs to leave.

It seems like a whole lot of trouble for something as simple as being excused from class to perform a biological function. I have two strong thoughts about the situation. First, why is it such a big deal to let a kid use the bathroom in the first place? Second, why is it so hard for Chris to speak up about his needs? Both individuals involved in this situation could handle things differently and have a positive outcome. Yet- here we are.

Mrs. J (SLP) thinks seeing the whole little drama out will be a good opportunity for Chris to really think about how communicating his needs helps him get those needs met. First, we have the written communication in the note. Second, we have verbal communication between Chris and his teacher. Third, we have resolution of the problem. It's all very logical. I'm sure it's a good idea. Yet- it feels like we're negotiating a hostage stand-off instead of simply teaching a seven year old how to ask to use the restroom when it's inconvenient for the teacher to comply with said request. Am I the only one who sees a molehill growing taller here?

Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room