Monday, July 3, 2017

What I Learned in June

This month I learned some things about organization and simplicity, parenting, and personality and vocation.

Organization and Simplicity

1. Rainy days make make great organizational days. 
I'm a little compulsive, y'all. One rainy day a couple of weeks ago, I had the kids sort and purge their OOC magazine basket. The next day, Annie went through the "naptime bin", which she hasn't used as such in years. We sorted everything in it and replaced it with toys that are appropriate for Sallie.

2. Peyton's level of Voluntary Simplicity extends to camping outside in Florida in the middle of the Summer.  
You know you're married to a freak when they think tent camping on the Florida coast in June a good idea. I definitely got the better end of the deal- a few days of solo parenting and running the swim team shuttle and celebrating Sallie's birthday without her papa (she was crying on the way to church the day after her left and kept babbling "dada" and Annie told me she was sure she was just upset because her daddy left to go on a trip). 

Parenting and Family

3. (Some) people appreciate keeping children in the service during church.
This was *during* the service. Very front row. I didn't let him stay long but the fact that I didn't get super anxious over it is a testament to the kindness of the people here. I doubt anyone batted an eye and someone complimented me again that week for making them sit through the service.

4. With some kids, you just have to wait until things click. Graves is one of those kids (I keep telling myself this with every academic endeavor with him) where things just have to click. He's taught me a lot because, even though I talk a big talk about waiting for kids (especially little boys) to be developmentally ready, sometimes I like to being control and I want things on my own timing. But stopping nursing, and potty training, and getting rid of the paci didn't happen when I thought it would maybe be appropriate for them to and that's kind of been the story of his life.  Swimming has finally clicked and it was totally a mental thing. For all the ways he is sort of immature, I was telling a friend recently that he's so sensitive and perceptive to things and people (much more so than Annie)-- when he slows down enough to formulate a coherent thought. He's very self aware and he told me at his most recent swim practice "I'm sorta at a middle place. Some days I may cry, but today I'm going to try really hard not to." And he didn't. And had a great day. And can actually kinda swim now.

5. I wouldn't want to do this by myself for very long, but these small people are not bad company.  
I got a bunch done the Monday Peyton was gone and didn't get "over-tempered" as Graves says and there was not way I wasn't gonna treat myself to some CFA. Annie asked how the car at the top of the play place was safe and Graves told her they probably used a hot glue gun AND super glue. And the Annie asked why you had to be under a certain height and I told her it was to prevent big kids who might be rough from making it less enjoyable for younger children and she said "Momma, I think that has more to do with personalities than with age. Older children can be calm and gentle".

6. My heart didn't break as much as I thought it would when Sallie turned one. 

 But my mind is effectively blown. It went really fast but I think I soaked it up as much as a human being is capable of.  I often forget how good the next stage is when I'm anticipating its arrival because I'm mourning what we are leaving behind. And that's okay. I appreciate the new developments even more.

7. Very much related, maybe it's because we are beyond the infant stage and while I miss it, we are on the cusp of something that is just delightful.

8. Happy Little Sallie loves being one year old just at much as she loved being zero years old.

9. We're a little co-dependent. 

VBS made that real obvious. Graves, upon being apart for approximately two and a half hours at VBS, said "Hey Annie. I been missin' ya". They are so co-dependent and it was REALLY good for both of them to be in separate groups (they're in the same Sunday school class until this Fall). Sallie and I are also a bit co-dependent and it was great for her to have a a big chunk of Papa time and for my parents to get to keep just her for the first time ever and great for me to do something without even thinking about taking care of her. (I did make P drive around with a huge 5x7 index card that said SALLIE on a rubberbands on his wrist and he could only take it off if he put it I her seat. She never rides in his car and the baby getting left and dying in a hot car is a huge anxiety thing for me. He's so good to me in that realm and never tells me to just get past it.)

10. I love a splotchy, fresh baby.

I ran across these two old pictures of Sallie and thought of one of the most bizarre Herrington Quirks yet. So, I can't stand baby acne when it's like true whiteheads with pus and stuff but I kinda love it when their skin is patchy and almost has like a rash because they're just so fresh and new. Kinda like how I love when they have ear fur like a little animal. I know...FAH-REAK. Maybe I'm just trying to compensate for Minnie's newborn phobia. (And the ruddy little naked baby with nearly black eyes is obviously Annie. Haven't found a good splotchy one of Graves...yet). 

Personality and Vocation

11. Children, like all people, show their love in a variety of ways.  
I was in the bathroom and Graves had what Annie referred to as a "gumball explosion" in the den (they spilled everywhere). Fearing a choking hazard, Annie picked her up, brought her to their room, moved this stool across the room using her feet while still holding the baby, and hoisted her into her crib. Not bad for someone who doesn't even really like to touch drooly babies. I asked Annie to demonstrate (as I always do with things like this) and she said "I'm sorry you've got to go through this experience again, Sallie". She really did a great job and seemed completely in control of the situation. 

Annie has also been having the best time doing "experiments". She's been creating "recipes" and trying them on Sallie. A big favorite is one called "Cheerios in Hiding" and consists of Cheerios slathered in peanut butter. I'm not sure she's ever liked any food better, which is saying ALOT and I finally just had to cut her off, at which point Graves said "Good choice, I do not want to see my first (?!?) baby sister throw up".

Maybe I'm projecting because I do not serve my family nearly as well when I'm not operating from a place of rest (which includes, but isn't limited to, prioritizing sleep). But after some hard days recently, Annie was so good to her younger siblings recently. She played the piano, specifically because her baby sister loves it and she came up with quiet a few baby games and snacks over the course of the afternoon and evening. When her brother felt bad, she dimmed the lights, drew the blinds, and brought him all his favorite stuffed animals. And I caught her stroking his little back softly once as I walked by. She doesn't necessarily nurture people the way I do, but she's such a wonderful sister and she's so kind to these little people who I can completely understand why she often finds so obnoxious.

12. Sometimes you really want to turn away from the work you know you were made to do, born to do.
A really special friend and I had a great talk about this recently. The first analogy that popped into my head were my experiences (particularly with Sallie) in childbirth. "Calling" is still something I have a terrible time wrapping my head around and often I think we try to discern and force what we think is God's will more than we should. At the same time, I do think there are certain vocations and endeavors we are particularly suited for and sometimes they feel very natural and joyful and sometimes they feel very difficult and frightening. It's not a thing of me feeling like God has asked me to do something I can't or don't want to do. There are days when homeschooling feels like a joy and I feel like a wonderful teacher and there are days where it is very much a labor of love and I feel like an abject failure. Sometimes I think I paint the Schoolhouse in the Suburbs a much more fun, sweet place that it actually is.

Minnie, concerned, asked me recently about a reference on here to "dark days". So often, in my case, the literal ones bring about the figurative ones and we've had a string of literal ones and this particular dreary day I just wanted to cry. Graves read five out of six of the above sentences (I read the other- I  always let him choose one for me to read). This is only half of a small part of a lesson.  And it literally took an hour and me helping him refocus probably (literally) over a hundred times. I don't really think P has it in him to do this well. And I don't know that I do. [To be clear- and this is the sin of pride- it's really rewarding for there to be SOMETHING that I'm much better at than he is.] Anyway, I guess when I'm cognizant of things I momentarily want to run the hell away from, but know I was designed to do, they are all around.

I told Minnie that I know Graves is VERY smart, and certainly I have my own set of biases, but I do feel like the likelihood he would be less successful (and less understood) in a traditional school is high and that, at least right now, we are the best teachers for him.

That's it for this month. I always love these little reflections!

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