Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Mothering "Light-bulb"

Here is a bit of something I dashed off to a facebook  "Mommy" group two days ago.
I was asked if I would post it on my blog, so I modified it ever so slightly and am posting it here, NOT as an expert parent, but just as a mom, who, with the help of God, stumbles upon things that work now and then. (Hallelujah!)

There is one thing I have learned along the way that has majorly transformed my relationship with my children....
Let me take that back. I didn't feel like I had a bad relationship with them before, so "transform" might be a strong word, but I was just amazed how much richer and funner, lacking in tension and more congenial it became after I figured this out.

It came about when I became aware how much of my interaction with them, was initiated by my children:

They cry, I respond.
They whine, I react.
They ask a question, I answer.
They show me something, I look at it and say something appropriate.
They ask for a drink, I get them a drink.

The exception to that rule was when I was telling them to do something.
"It's time to pick up your toys. It's time to take a bath. Would you please bring me the scissors? Would you please call Daddy for supper?"...etc. and so on, ad nauseum, world without end, amen.

Occasionally I would ask them questions, but usually the "polite routine" types of questions, "Did you sleep well last night? How was the volley-ball game? How was school?..."...blah-de blah..

So after I noticed this, I decided to try to change it.

I began initiating conversations..asking their opinions on whatever. Initiating fun imagination-type things: 'What do you think would happen if..?"
Specific questions: "What was your favorite thing about today?"

Instead of trying to sneak a drink of tea without them seeing so I didn't have to pour four glasses of tea instead of one, I start out from an entirely different place: "Would anyone care for a glass of tea?" I'll say, and serve them first.

Or instead of waiting till they ask me to read to them, I'll suggest it, "I got this book I thought y'all would enjoy, if you'll get your baths quick, I'll read to you."
Or instead of waiting till they ask to play a game I'll say, "If you like, I'll play you two rounds of the matching game."

I will sometimes hop in and help them with their jobs...say it's setting or clearing the table, or picking up toys....especially when they are working well and don't expect or need help...."Here, let me get the blocks while you get the Legos.."

Even SMALL kindnesses/compliments if they are "extra" work wonders. "You have the best freckles EVER!" "How did I ever get so lucky to have you for my little boy?" Just whatever....

The atmosphere and dynamic of our home really changed to a much more positive tone! Our relationships just are far more open, generous, warm and giving, because they have just responded in kind. "Can I bring you a cookie too, Mom?" And to each other, "I'll carry your lunch box for you."

I have been so blessed and amazed, in all honesty. Borderline stunned.

There have been few things that will diffuse the grumpies as quick as me doing something for them that is clearly proactively caring, "Would you like me to pick out your songs for you tonight?" (...if your son is leading songs and he hates choosing them.)
It's so easy to switch to that dreaded parental tone and say something like "Well, picking songs is just part of the song-leader's job, so you might as well quietly do it without complaint."
(I have older children so some of these suggestions won't fit littles, but the idea holds true..)

Just to balance what I have said, I am not suggesting abdicating the parental role, neglecting necessary discipline, or ignoring disobedience, I am simply suggesting proactively putting goodness and blessing in your children's lives, and pursuing them with happy conversation rather than waiting for them to say "Mommy mommy..."

Friday, June 12, 2015

To Do or Dye

 The Chief and I were at a second hand store a number of weeks ago looking for work shirts for him. His work shirt situation was getting dire.

We paged through the long line of options, rejects from some other man's closet, most of them for apparent reasons.

Eventually he pulled one out. It looked entirely new and it was a good brand name. "How about this one?" he said. We discussed it a little bit. It was red. There are a some people in our congregation who feel it is wrong to wear red. We like to take things like that into consideration when we make choices. We thought about putting it back.
"Maybe I could dye it." I said.

What color would you die it? he asked.
"Maroon, maybe?" I mused. "It's cotton. It should take a dye, I think."
"Have you ever dyed anything" he asked.
"No," I said. "But how hard can it be? You can get those little dye boxes at the grocery store, and do it in your washing machine."
We had to stop at the grocery store anyway.

"Alright," he said, "let's get it."

So we got it. And one night I carefully read the directions, and gingerly started my machine using the hottest water, which is quite hot, adding salt, putting in the pre-wetted shirt, and extra dye which should result in a "richer color", it said. I like "rich color". Then I carefully made sure nothing else was within splashing distance, shut the lid, and went away.

I came back often and peered in, though, because I don't believe in letting stuff like that alone unsupervised in the dark. Also, I was suppose to let it go through three entire agitator cycles before I let it spin out so every now and again I had to turn the knob back so it could start over.  It looked practically black in there. Like black cherries. The kind of color that makes you smile.

Finally it was done agitating. Time to rinse.

"Rinse with cold water until the water is clear." the directions said.

So I ran it through the rinse cycle.
Spun it out.
Ran it through again.
Spun it out.
Ran it through again.
Spun it out.

It was getting kind of late. The water was not running clear. It was running rose.
I ran it through again. Still rose. Pretty much the same hue it had been the last three times.

I don't remember how many times I rinsed it for sure, but I do know I finally decided the thing it probably needed was to have the color "set" by putting it in a very hot dryer.

I put it in the dryer, and headed to bed.

Thus, the Chief came into possession of a new work shirt.

All was fine and good until the shirt came through the laundry again.
I should have switched to supervisory mode again, but I didn't. I didn't think about it one way or the other. I just put it in the dark load and lah-de-dah went on my way.

Everything in that load came out pink. A towel that had once been green, a dress that had once been brown, underwear that had once been gray.

"My underwear are pink?" The native whose they were suddenly popped out of the revery he had been in with visible concern.

From then on I have been very careful what I wash the shirt with. It either gets washed alone, or with red towels or things that don't matter. If you see me cleaning with pink rags you'll know why.

So we have a lot of lovely pink things. And one weirdly pinky-green towel.

The shirt itself looks pretty much like it did when the Chief first pulled it out and asked, "How about this one?"

The rinse water is still not running clear.

I'm choosing to believe, just for my own mental well-being, that everything in our septic tank is that beautiful black cherry shade.