That’s more like it

“Mommy, your skin is so soft right here.” It was bedtime and I was lying down next to Maddie, one of my eight-year old twins. She was rubbing the skin between my collarbones with her forefinger. “It’s all wrinkly.” She moved her finger up to my face. “And there are wrinkles here.. and here…”

Eight is an interesting age. They’re savvy enough to “get” much of what the older kids and Dave and I say, but they have very little sophistication about what to say–or not say–themselves. The other day Jake told Maddie that her face was “chubby.” It took Judy, Kelly, and Emily to explain to him why Maddie didn’t like that. “Don’t ever say anything negative to a girl about how she looks,” Judy told him. “You could scar her for life,” Kelly added. And I told him that my face was chubby when I was eight, too.

Dave and the boys with Papa, Dave’s dad. What a cute bunch of guys!

Emily just punched him.

“Ow,” Jake said and then defended his comments.”But I like her face. I wasn’t trying to be mean.”

“And it is chubby,” he added.

Jake is our early riser. On school mornings he comes down to the basement, where I am working out, and he curls up on the couch and reads. Every once in awhile he glances up to see what I’m doing. Last week he told me, “Mom, you’re not lifting your knees nearly as high as the people on the video.”

“Do you want to get out here and show me how it’s done?” I immediately regretted my sarcasm, but it was okay because it was lost on Jake. He paused and then said, “No,” before looking back at his book.

Doggone it, I was trying my hardest NOT to lift my knees higher after that, but I must have caved into the pressure because, a few minutes later, when I was back into the high knee part of the cycle, he looked up again and said, “That’s more like it, Mom.”

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Getting beyond age 7

I'm not sure what he was pretending to do, but that's Em's hat PJ is wearing.

I take Chai, our dog, for a “bike run” (I bike, she RUNS) nearly every day that it’s nice. Sometimes the kids join me. When they do, I have three rules for them: 1. Stay on the sidewalk; 2. Don’t panic; and 3. I WILL come back for you. Trust me.

They do really well with rule number one, but they break 2 and 3 nearly every time. Jake lags far behind, and Maddie panics: “Jake, we’re losing you!” Then someone, unable to keep up with me at first because Chai is running off her steam, yells, “Mom, don’t leave us.”

That’s when I circle back around, gather them together and remind them—again—of the rules. I usually end with, “Have I EVER left you?” They shake their heads. “Don’t I know exactly where you are?” They nod.

The other day the Holy Spirit nudged me during my “rule” review. “Oh,” I thought. “I do the same thing to God.”

And as I’ve listened to some of the conversations I’ve had lately with my younger three children, I’ve discovered that MANY of the things I say to them are the very things I know God tells me. I’m a lot like a 7-year-old in the ways I relate to Him. Not only does He have to say the same things I do, but He also has to say them over and over.

So I’ve been trying to take a spiritual lesson from what so often feels mundane and repetitive.

When Maddie asks, “Mom, are you getting me a sandwich(or whatever)?”—for the fourth time—and I answer, “Honey, I’ve told you I will put a sandwich in your lunch for tomorrow, but right now I’m fixing our dinner. I WILL get to it. Can you please stop worrying about it and trust me?”

Hmm.

Today PJ ate lunch with his dad while I met with a student. Dave texted me on our way into school to tell me he was not in his classroom. When PJ headed that direction, I told him, “No, buddy, Daddy’s somewhere else. You’re going to eat in a different place today. Just follow me.”

But that wasn’t good enough. “Where are we going?” he asked.

“The Maroon Room.”

“What’s that?”

My explanation didn’t make sense to him, so he asked it again.

“Buddy, you’ll see it when you get there. I can’t explain it to you in a way you’ll understand.”

So he changed tactic. “WHY are we going there? Why aren’t we eating in Daddy’s room?”

Once again I “saw” myself, questioning God’s plan, wondering why it’s different than what I think is best, frustrated when I can’t understand the answers He gives (and thinking that that’s HIS fault, not mine) and then asking “Why?” rather than simply trusting.

I could give lots more examples. This happens just about every day.

It all boils down to their lack of trust,

As it all boils down to MY lack of trust.

And it’s more than a lack of trust in His leading or His wisdom. Ultimately, it’s a lack of trust in God Himself, that He is who He says He is, that He loves me with an everlasting love.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:

‘In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,’”

Isaiah 30:15a

What a way to start the day

Jake and Patrick were doing some kind of chant-dance. I just asked Patrick what they were saying in this picture. "Ooh-ha, ooh-ha. Something like that, Mom."

As usual Jake was the last one to get out of the car when I dropped the kids off at our carpool meeting spot. Just before he closed the door, I turned around in my seat and said, “Bye, J-man, have a great day.”

He gave me his impish sideways grin. “Goodbye, elderly mother.”

I started laughing. “What?”

“Wait.” His eyebrows wrinkled. “What does that mean?”

“Old,” I said, “very old.”

“Oh.” He was visibly thinking, and for a second I thought I might get a compliment, or at least an apology.

Not this morning.

“Well, it is true, Mom. You are really old. Bye.”

It’s a good thing I taught middle school years ago and developed a thick skin. I’ve discovered I need one as a mom, too!