We have entered “that stage” of parenthood. Depending on which way you look at things: it’s either a foreboding warning of things to come or a brief oasis just in time in a barren desert. That’s right, the kids are all gone this weekend!
Matthew and Greta took off this afternoon with their Pathfinder Club for the Bible Experience competition this weekend. Michael leaves early tomorrow morning for two days of choir performances. Their laundry is still here. Their places at the table are here, so it’s not a truly empty nest by any means, but Karl and I are home alone for the weekend!
Truthfully, we will both miss all three of the children, terribly. But equally true will be the welcome of the time alone together, no distractions and interruptions from the offspring. Schedules have been crazy with the kids lately, especially Michael as a senior this year, so some alone time to catch our breath will truly be a blessing.
I do plan to learn from the experience, however. If I find myself bored or not sure what to do, I need to start making a list of some of my hobbies and so forth that I have gladly set aside while raising children was top priority. It’s our first foray into all three children being gone on outings at the same time, without us. There is a little pain, actually, that this is an experience they will have that we won’t be a part of, but it is as it should be – some day. But not yet.
Karl picked up a sale item the other day – a paper airplane kit. He thought the kids would enjoy it. It has an instruction booklet and designed paper so you can make a “shark plane” that reminds you of the ferocious paint jobs on WWII planes. Those fighters were serious!
It sat around for a couple of days until it was finally utilized, by Greta and two other girls from the neighborhood. It wasn’t the boys that went after it, it was the girls! They were making plane after plane and testing how well they flew, correcting any errors they may have made. I mentioned they needed to save some of the papers for the boys, but Karl just shook his head and said he could always buy another one if needed.
Maybe the one little neighbor girl, who made the most planes and was the most fastidious about the whole process, will grow up to be involved in designing planes. No one at this house told her she couldn’t do it because she was a girl. You never know.
There are days as a parent when you just need to hand it off to your spouse. You give them that look that says, you take over or this child will end up grounded for three years. Greta does more than any of the other children to cause us to keep passing the baton back and forth. But what if there is no one to pass the baton to?
I know some recent single parents with young children. They have a lot going on. Suddenly they are responsible for everything to a much greater magnitude than ever before. They also desperately need that “Tag, you’re it” moment to pass the baton to someone else for a little while.
Single parents work hard and sacrifice a lot. If you know a single parent, especially of younger children, why don’t you find out if you can provide one of those moments where they can pass the baton to you for a few minutes? Offer to take their kids to the park for an hour. Find out their favorite treat and take them to get it. Find out what their parent is really struggling with right now, and find a way to reinforce and support the parent to those children during your outing.
By the way, it doesn’t matter why they are a single parent. Death, divorce, never married; it just doesn’t matter. Those kids till need mentoring and that parent still needs a moment to tag someone else to take over for a while.
Last night I was the only parent in the house as Karl was out of town for a meeting. This is a big job. Speaking of our family and our personalities to some colleagues at a conference once caused them to look at us with pity and admiration. Through their laughter they exclaimed, “You must have a high energy household.” That would be an understatement. This household is hard enough for two parents to run. So I was in running in safe mode last night. Just the basic operations to get through to bed time, no extras.
Then Greta asked me to play a game of Whoonu with her. I didn’t feel like getting on the floor and playing a game. I had some other projects to work on as my day before the kids got home didn’t go as planned. But somehow a game of Whoonu slipped through my safe mode. Sure, I’ll play a game with you.
You are the best mom in the world.
The rest of the evening went better because of the togetherness and fun we had as a family playing that game. Whoonu? Should have known. The family that bonds together works together. Take some quality time with your family tonight and see what happens. You might be saying Whoonu too!
One of the principles we’ve learned over the years in our experiment with this thing called parenting is to pick our battles. There may be a hundred things you wish your children would do differently, but in the end, there are just a handful of things that you would really invest all of your parenting resources into that you might correct them.
Greta made it easy for us this morning. Her defiance and the fire in her eyes as well as the attitude that seemed to resound with every inch of her, from her hair to her toenails, made it quite clear. This is a hill to die on. With how strong willed she is, this is going to be a serious battle.
Greta didn’t want to admit she was wrong. She struggles to admit when she is wrong. In her defense, the control part of her fun/control personality makes this difficult. Just as some folks have trouble speaking in public or being patient enough to pay attention to endless tiny details, control country personalities (with a touch of perfect) can really struggle with admitting they are wrong.
When we told Greta that we had observed the incident ourselves and saw that she was wrong and needed to admit it, she challenged us. Why should I? At the moment I felt like I was the smallest horse rancher ever facing the largest herd of wild mustangs bent on staying wild. The stubbornness that exuded from her could build an insurmountable wall to rival the Great Wall of China. Oh yes! This was an issue we had to meet head on.
It isn’t easy explaining to a 10 year old lives for the moment girl that conquering her inability to admit wrong now will serve her for the rest of her life. I have a feeling that this issue will return for many more conversations. Things that seemed to be issues yesterday now pale in comparison. But Greta’s personality has set her up to be a great leader. If she can conquer this hurdle – admitting when she is wrong – she will be a beloved leader and not an arbitrary tyrant. The world needs great leaders. Greta is fearless. The world needs fearless leaders like Greta. We are currently accepting any and all prayers on our behalf as we tackle this challenge. God help us. He created Greta this way and He has great plans for her life. He must have much faith in us that we can raise her to be the great leader He had envisioned.