"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Monday, February 29, 2016

Worst-Case Scenario Parenting

"Baby, listen. Worst-case scenario: we'll just go down to the basement storage room and hang out there until the storm passes. But please remember, we do not live in a place where tornadoes are likely to happen."

Max had come home from school terrified. It was a windy day following a day during which several tornadoes touched down in different parts of our state. A friend in school had told him that, during the tornado watch the day before, her grandparents, who live several hours away, had to shelter in their bathroom. The wind made him nervous and he needed to know our Disaster Preparedness Plan. After some snuggles and more reassurances, he was okay. He ran off to the playroom to join Evan in the Lego Galaxy Battle of All Time.

My kids are worriers. I learned early on that it's more effective to address their fears and anxieties with action plans rather than to dismiss their fears or tell them not to worry. 

I find myself acknowledging their concerns by pointing out what we would do in any Worst-Case Scenario, if it were to come to that. 

"Worst-case scenario, you fall off your bike. You're wearing jeans and a helmet so you're well-protected. We're right here to help you up if that happens."

"Worst-case scenario, you do have to get vaccines at today's appointment. It'll pinch for a moment but then it'll be over."

"Worst-case scenario, you don't know a single kid in your class on that first day of kindergarten. You'll get to know some friends really quickly. You're awesome at Being a Friend and Kindergarten teachers know a thing or two about building classroom communities, too."

"Worst-case scenario, you do get a vomit-flavored Every Flavour Bean and you spit it out. We'll have a cherry one waiting for you to get the taste out of your mouth." (The kids were spared the worst of them, as luck would have it. My mom drew the vomit bean, while I suffered through earthworm.)

I don't only use this strategy with my kids. When talking to my mom friends about their mom-worries, it can come in handy, too. "Worst-case scenario, he goes to kindergarten in diapers. But he's only two. Give him time." 

I used it recently on my little sister, too. While I wouldn't normally try to persuade her into calling in "sick" to a work shift, I did the other day. She needed a mental health day and I wanted her company. "Worst-case scenario, you get fired. So you find a new job. You work at a college library. No one will die without you there to enforce Quiet Hours." Maybe not my most Responsible Big Sister moment, but it was a beautiful, warm, sunny day and a nature walk with kids and a puppy is good for the soul.
It can feel Pessimistic and Over-Reactive to be a Worst-Case Scenario Mom, but I think there's comfort in knowing that, in most situations, the worst isn't that bad and, more often than not, it won't come to that anyway.

I try to be honest with my kids and give them as much information as they need to feel secure, without giving them too many details to unnecessarily frighten or overwhelm them.

With the upcoming election, though, I've totally blown it. I have been Worst-Case Scenario Mom to the Max and my Max is taking it pretty hard.

In addition to explaining why I support the candidates I support, I have been...well, completely honest with the boys about my concerns about some of the others. I have felt as though they're old enough to know that racism, sexism, and xenophobia are still, inexplicably, alive and well in this country. I want my kids to know that, despite what the loudest person in the room may be saying, they can be the change. My kids can be the Good. The world will be a better place because of them. I want them to know that the way they treat people matters and that Good People and Kindness will always win. 

But for some reason, Trump keeps winning and I. Don't. Get. It.

My family got together last weekend for an early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. I know a lot of families don't talk about politics but we do. We are respectful, but we are honest and open and opinionated as hell. Though we don't all agree on every issue and we won't all be voting for the same candidate, we talk. We challenge. We debate. But there's one thing we can all agree on: Trump. 

We were talking about the upcoming Primary Election while waiting for our meals to arrive. The grown-ups at the table were each weighing in with their own "no, but THIS is the most ridiculous/dangerous thing he's ever said." We were presenting cases for the best ways to prevent his nomination and to ensure that he didn't actually win the whole damn thing in November. I didn't think Max was paying much attention but, as usual, he was. 

"Mommy?" he said, wide-eyed. "Is Donald Trump going to win and be the president?"

"No, baby." I said, sorry I had been so open with my opinions with him. Sorry I had given him one more thing to worry about.

"Are you sure?"

"No, baby, I'm not." I said, sorry, most of all, that I couldn't lie to him.

"But what if he wins?"

"Listen, Max. Worst-case scenario: Donald Trump wins. But even if that happens, you will always be safe with your family, who loves you so much and who will take such good care of you," I said. "Donald Trump is a Grown-Up Worry. You don't have to worry about him."

But I do. And so do you. And I am worried. And I hope you are, too.

So now we just get out there and vote and hope that reason and sensibility and humanity and kindness wins. 

Lesson Learned:
Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, it's time to put this baby to bed. I'll do my part. Republicans, it's time to do yours. We can not allow this Worst-Case Scenario to come true.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Gender Inclusivity at the Doctor's Office

She sat like such a big kid on the exam table in her pediatrician's office yesterday. We were there for her 4-year check-up and I had just assured her that no, she would not be getting any vaccinations this time. (Then I crossed my fingers, hoping that was the truth.)

As we waited for Dr. S to come in, we passed the time drawing in Molly's notebook. She would draw a picture and I would write what it was beneath it, then vice versa. She blew me away when, after I handed her my picture of a cow, she wrote beneath it: KAY. "Is that right, Mommy?"

"Wow." I simply said. "That's amazing."

When the door opened, a doctor, but not Dr. S, walked in. "I'm Dr. P," she said, extending her hand to Molly in an unrequited greeting. "You must be Molly."

She is a resident in pediatrics, working alongside Dr. S, and she informed me that she would begin the exam and Dr. S would meet up with us shortly.

The exam began as most 4-year old well-checks do: the doctor asked Molly a series of questions about school and friends and activities and then, when Molly refused to talk to or even make eye contact with the kind and gentle doctor, she turned to me.

She asked about Molly's diet and sleep habits, her physical and cognitive development, and her social development and her screen time. Then, she said, "Do you have any questions or concerns about her gender identity?"

I paused before answering. I wondered if perhaps she had looked through our family file and had learned about Max. I had never been asked that question at a pediatric well-check before, so figured she must have.

"I understand it may seem like an unusual question," she went on, filling in my pause. "We just want to make sure we are addressing all areas of a child's development and gender identity is part of that process."

"No," I assured her, "I don't find it unusual at all. In fact, Molly's older brother, my middle child, is gender-nonconforming."

"Oh!" she exclaimed, clearly having not read through our family file.

I went on to describe Molly as a typically-gendered child: she was born a girl, she identifies as a girl, and she presents herself in a traditionally feminine manner.

We moved on from there to the physical exam (no butterflies in her ears or jumping beans in her belly! Phew!) and the topic of gender identity did not come up again until Dr. S came in and, in chatting after the exam was over, asked how my sweet Max was doing in Kindergarten.

I couldn't stop thinking about the question, though, posed so naturally during a routine exam. I'm so happy that well-child exams, at least in my doctor's practice,  now include this important part of a child's healthy development. Being asked this question made me feel as though gender identity, and the ENTIRE spectrum that it encompasses, is healthy and NORMAL. My children, all three of them, at all three different points on the gender identity spectrum, are healthy and normal.

I knew that already, of course, but the more we talk about it, the more people will start to believe it.

Lesson Learned:

There was another takeaway message from the casual question about gender identity from the doctor: I was given an opportunity to look at the world of gender identity from Molly's perspective. How lucky is she to be growing up with two such different and beautiful and Normal examples of what it means to Be a Boy in her brothers? How lucky am I?

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Puppy Party: a DIY birthday party for animal lovers

If you know me or have followed this blog for some time, it will come as no surprise when I say that I LOVE a good party. Well, not just any party. Grown-up parties with Talking to Adults and Wearing Fancy Clothes actually really stress me out. I'll be going to one in a few weeks and I'm already having social anxiety-induced stress dreams about it. 

But if it's for one of my kids and it's a birthday, then sign me up, because Kid's Birthday Parties are the best. 

We tend to have small, simple parties at home, built around a theme of the Special Birthday Kid's choosing. The Special Birthday Kid of the Day was Molly and Molly Loves Puppies, so... 

It was a Puppy Party! And it was perfect.

As soon as the guests arrived, they each chose their very own puppy from the Puppy Adoption Center. These were theirs to play with during the party and, because they were theirs to keep, doubled as their party favor.

I ordered a set of 12 puppies from Oriental Trading. There were 2 each of six different breeds. I was pretty impressed with the appearance and quality of the puppies given the price. 

A Certificate of Adoption made the new pet official and gave the child a chance to choose a name for his or her new puppy.

Once the puppy had a name, I made a personalized name tag and a "collar" (just a paper crafting tag on a piece of string) for the puppy while the proud owner decorated a Dog House made from a treat box.

It was a rather tight fit, but the kids were happy with them.

For the rest of the party, the kids just played with and took care of their new puppies!

Grooming Station

I filled a metal tub with blue balls from our ball pit for the Bubble Bath and included an empty shampoo bottle, an empty spray bottle, a brush, a comb, and a towel.

Max took his job as Professional Groomer very seriously. He offered three different levels of grooming: The Standard Wash, The Messy Puppy Wash, and the Princess Pup Treatment. I'm not actually sure what each entailed, but the owners and puppies were all satisfied customers.

Of course, Max wasn't the only one who got in on the Grooming Action.

Vet Clinic

A ready-made station if you have a doctor's kit in your playroom, this station was a busy place for most of the party. 

The Dog Park

We struck weather gold for a February birthday! 60+ degrees and sunny meant that our dog park was out on the patio. Max helped me make ramps and tunnels for the puppies to play on and in out of cardboard and the fence is our Beast Control System for our own puppy. 

(As an aside...Jake the Weim was banished to Doggie Day Care at his obedience school for the afternoon. We couldn't have him intimidating the party guests with his ferocious bark or slobbery kisses. He came home happy to be reunited with his kids and exhausted. I think Doggie Day Care should be a regular part of his routine...you know, because it made HIM so happy! I'm thinking only of the beast's feelings here.)

Back inside, we had a quiet area for overstimulated pups needing a bit of a break:

The Dog House
Reading Tent

We filled it with dog books from our own collection and a couple of nonfiction gems picked up from the library. I'm always surprised at how well-loved the Quiet Station is during any party. Kids actually do choose to look at books if you offer them the opportunity to!

Sensory Dog Park

Another party station staple is the sensory bin. Usually I make a playdough station to fit the theme, but a Puppy Party called for our Toob Puppies

I filled the tub with green and red lentils, then added a few small stones for interest. Paper towel rolls made great slides and ramps for the pups and small dishes added some sensory play opportunities.

Finally, we had our doll house set up for our Calico Critters Yellow Labrador family.

We only had one real party game, which was just as well. The kids really just wanted to play with their puppies!

They agreed to take a break to Feed the Hungry Pup, though.

It was a variation on the classic Pin the Tail on the Donkey game because sometimes the Classics have survived the test of time for a reason.

After the game, it was time to eat.

We always have our parties before or after lunch. Kids don't want to eat a meal at a birthday party. We don't even offer more than just a few snacks. Let's be honest, they came for the cake. Besides a Purple Rain swirl cake by Duff (at the request of the Birthday Girl), we had fruit and Scooby Snacks. The kids were legitimately confused about whether or not these were for them or their new furry friend. A brave soul tried one and assured the rest of the table that Molly's Mommy wasn't playing a trick on them. :)

When it came time to sing and make a wish, this girl knew just what to do.

May your wishes come true, my love, today and always.

Lesson Learned:
I love a good party. As long as it's at my house, for one of my kids, and small and sweet, I'm your party gal. As for the Party I've committed to attending in a few weeks, well, I'll be over here mentally preparing and biting my fingernails.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Four Years Old

Four always takes my breath away a little bit. Maybe it's because I realize that we have, at long last, made it out of Three, but I think it's more than that. I think it's because, at Four, you suddenly seem like a Little Kid. No longer a baby, no longer a toddler, no longer a Let's-Just-Get-Through-This-Year Threenager, you are a Kid.

You go to school. You have friends. You have activities. You have conversations. You have Big Feelings that you are able to talk about, rather than just demonstrate--loudly and at inappropriate times and places. You are so intentionally funny. You are so capable. You are so independent. You are so....YOU. 

And you, Molly, are something else.

This has been such a big year for you. You started school (confidently and without a second glance at your dear old ma, who only birthed you, child, no really, it's fine).

And you LOVE it. You love your teachers and classmates, you love the projects and activities, and you LOVE the learning. The other day, as we sat down for lunch, you said, "Mommy, listen to this: HI-BER-NATE." "Wow!" I gushed, "That's a big word for a little kid!" "I know it, Mommy. My teacher told me it and it means when aminals sleep in the wintertime in their cozy, cozy homes." You know the word 'hibernate' yet you still call them 'aminals.' This is the magic of nearly-four.

Not long after your first day of school, you started ballet. And, not that I'm comparing you to your brothers, but this marks the first time one of my children has initiated involvement in an activity outside of school. (Go get 'em, Girl.) You were a bit hesitant at first...

...but it wasn't long before you were in your element.

You are brave.

Not always...you're quick to curl up into me when your brothers pretend to be ferocious animals stalking you, the tiny kitty...but you amaze me with your fearlessness that comes out when it counts.

You can turn on lights all by yourself, with nothing to stand on but your tiptoes.

You can get dressed all by yourself, with strong opinions about fashion and accessories.

You can color inside the lines and follow the instruction manuals to put Lego sets together.

You can climb to the very top of any playground structure and run fast enough to keep up with the neighborhood kids in our backyard.

You know your numbers and your letters and shapes and how to write and draw all of them.

You are a puzzle wizard.

Although you still say "ew" instead of "you" and, instead of "paper towels" you call them "wiper towels," your language and speech are blooming. You pronounce beginning S-sounds properly now (sssssnow instead of 'no), which always makes you ssssstop and sssssay, "Ssssssseeeee, Mommy? I can ssssssay it!"

But it's not just what you can do. It's who you are. It's how you choose to present yourself...it's your personality that is now, at four, self-confidently, beautifully shining through.

You are a gem, my dear.

As we walked through Costco the other day, you walked beside me, holding my hand and humming an invented tune. Every once in awhile you would stop to point to something wild and wonderful on display, "Look, Mommy! That floatie is so big it would never even fit in a pool! You would need an ocean pool and a truck so big to bring it home!" Then you would pick up where you had left off in your song. I wandered down the restaurant supply aisle and that random side aisle with picture frames, mattresses, and car mats just to hear your little, tiny voice, happily humming along. It was just you, me, and the music in your mind.

You hug with your arms wrapped tightly.

You place your hands on either side of my face and stare right into my eyes.

You are free with your Thank You's and your I Love You's.

You are a lover, with a heart so big and wide open that everyone and every furry thing is allowed in. You have said that when you grow up you would like to be a veterinarian. I can so see it.

You. Are. A Goofball.

You are a joker and a prankster and a make-your-brothers-laugh-ster. There's this new thing you do that gets them every time. In a high-pitched baby voice, you say, "And thewe's a big, bad pig wunning awound the westauwant." I have no idea where it came from, but every couple of days or so, you'll break it out in the most random time and they're on the floor, clutching their tummies, tears of laughter streaming down their cheeks. You've got it, girl, the sense of humor that will carry you through the hard years of adolescence, if you let it. Don't become too self-conscious, baby, please. Keep making them laugh. Keep laughing with them. There's no better sound in the world.

We had just finished reading the bedtime book the other night and, as I reached to turn off the lamp, you stopped me. "Mommy, I need to tell you somefing," you began, your voice already shaky. "In school one time I was raising my hand and somebody told me to put my hand down in not a nice way." I asked you if it was one of your classmates and you nodded, burying your face in my shoulder. "But he's not the boss of me and I'm allowed to raise my hand." "Well, what did you do about it?" I asked, curious to know how she handled this new peer-dynamic. "I just didn't look at him and I kept my hand up and he thought I didn't hear him." "What happened next?" I prodded, smiling slightly at the idea of my daughter deliberately ignoring this little boy. "My teacher said, 'Molly, what do you want to say?' and I told her." "So, you did get a turn to talk. It sounds like you handled it well." "Yes, I already know that, Mommy, but I'm the boss of me. And sometimes you are. But no other kids are." You're right. And I hope you always know that; that you're the boss of you (and that sometimes I am, too).

You want so badly to keep up with your big brothers. You want to play what they're playing. You want to be where they are. You want to do what they're doing. You asked for Homework the other day as they sat down to do theirs, just to be near them.

(And thankfully, they nearly always allow it. Those brothers of yours? Oh, they love you good.)

But you still love being the Baby.

There is no doubt about it. You were born to be the baby of our family. You are the perfect bookend to our family, sweet Molly. You complete and unite us in a way that only you can, complementing each of your brothers beautifully and filling your daddy's and my heart. I am so proud of the little girl you are and so excited to see what will come next for you.

Happy, happy birthday to you, my love.

Lesson Learned:
When I was pregnant with Molly, I wasn't sure that she would be our last baby, but I knew she may be. I had the forethought to act as though she might be...to treat my pregnancy with her as if it were my last. I lived so presently during that time that I can still recall specific feelings and thoughts and emotions as if I were pregnant today. My other pregnancies, though magical in hindsight, are not so vivid in my consciousness.

I feel as though I'm experiencing Molly's whole life with the same presence of mind. I'm noticing so much more....adorable mispronunciations, mini-milestones, evidence of emotional and intellectual growth...these moments make an impact. Not that they didn't with the boys, but they last in my memory in a different way. Maybe it's because I know that this is it: This is the last time I will mother a child so young, and it's going by so fast. Maybe it's because I'm not as distracted as I was when her brothers were this age...no toddler to keep up with, no pregnancy to take my mind and body away from her. Maybe it's because I'm finally sleeping through most nights (with her curled up against me, but still...progress).

Whatever the reason, I'm present. I'm experiencing Her.

I'm such a lucky mom.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Slippery Slope to Gun Ownership

On a beautiful spring afternoon, almost nine years ago, I settled my fussy newborn into his already well-worn stroller. My first baby was what they called a “highly sensitive” newborn: colicky, needy, and a terrible sleeper. My baby’s only true contentment could be found while nursing or strolling. Because I could only have a baby attached to my boob so many times a day, we walked. A lot. Our several-times-daily walks around our neighborhood were my brief interludes of peace. My chance to breathe and mentally prepare myself for the next round of Calm the Anxious Infant.

I fastened his five-point harness and tucked his flannel blanket around his teeny, tiny feet and he immediately calmed in a seemingly Pavlovian response to this well-known routine. As we set out on our walk, I waved to the little girls next door, happily doodling with chalk on their driveway. The sound of a basketball being dribbled came from across the street. A dog barked. My baby, quiet at last, gazed contentedly up at the perfectly clear blue sky.

We hadn’t gone far when the typical, happy noises of our safe and quiet neighborhood full of children faded from my awareness and I noticed a disturbing scene ahead of us: Two girls were on their knees in a neighbor’s yard, their hands behind their heads. Boys were standing on either sides of the girls, jabbing black assault rifles into the girls’ ribs and calling to another group of kids across the street. The other group ran out from behind the house, immediately producing shiny black weapons of their own and aiming them at the girls on their knees, yelling orders and commands at one another. Finally, the girls’ apparent cohorts emerged from the side yard, guns in the air in surrender.

The entire group of kids met in the yard where the “hostages” were on their knees. The girls got up and were handed back their guns. There was some quiet debate about what would happen next and then, as a group, they ran together to the backyard, out of view. It was then that I realized I had stopped walking to watch them. My baby started to fuss.

As I continued on with our walk, I tried to make sense of what I had just seen. Those had surely been toy guns. Right? I recognized the kids and knew their parents. They were good kids. Of course they were toys. It was just a game. They were just a bunch of kids, playing cooperatively and happily together. No one was being hurt, and yet…

They were play-acting a hostage situation. With guns. Guns that looked Very Real. And it was happening in front yards spanning both sides of the street, which feels very much like public property to a person walking down the street pushing a baby in a stroller. It bothered me. A lot.

That night, after finally getting the baby to sleep, I wrote an email to my neighbors. In it, I described what I had seen, expressed my discomfort with what I had seen despite the fact that I realized it was all just a game, and I asked that, in the future, any play involving toy guns happen inside or in backyards, where it does not have to be seen by me or my getting-bigger-and-more-impressionable-everyday baby.

I knew I was being sensitive. Perhaps overly sensitive. I don’t like guns and never have. Maybe it’s because I’m the daughter of a former police officer. Maybe it’s because I watched Scott Scanlon kill himself on 90210 when I was only 12 or watched the real-life television coverage of Columbine from my college dorm room. Maybe it’s because just weeks earlier the horror of the Virginia Tech massacre unfolded as I held my brand-new baby in my hospital bed, waiting for my OB and his pediatrician to sign the discharge papers and send us home....Home, in this dangerous and scary world where children point realistic looking plastic guns into their friends chests (and sometimes those guns are real and it’s not a game and people children die).

I knew I was being sensitive. What I didn’t know was that I would be called naive by my neighbors who would laugh condescendingly and said, “Oh, honey. You’ll see. Just wait until yours gets a little older. He’s a boy and boys love guns and before you know it, your own son will have an AirSoft arsenal in his bedroom.”

And you know what? They were right. Almost.

My baby grew up. He’s almost nine now and he Loves Guns. He loves law enforcement and the military and history and he can tell you just about anything you’d ever want to know about weapons and warfare and military strategy.

Despite our careful gun-free child-rearing, despite our ban on all things projectile, gun play, somehow, appeared. It started when he was little and he turned sticks and Duplos and fingers into guns, pointed them into the air and, in his teeny, tiny toddler voice shouted, “Pew! Pew! Pew!” Where had he learned that? His dad and I had certainly never modeled gun play. We, as you might imagine, were careful about which television shows he watched. Is “gun culture” truly innate?

As he got older, our ban on guns in our home continued. There were no water guns, no Nerf guns, and certainly no AirSoft pellet rifles. We were visiting friends when our son was about five. Their kids had a couple of Nerf guns in the garage and my son’s eyes lit up. “Can I?” he asked. “Can we?” the other kids chorused. “Sure,” said my friend, “just don’t point them at each other!” She looked at me, “Is that okay?” It wasn’t, really, but I decided to conduct a little social experiment on my son. Surely he wouldn’t remain interested in such play when I had given him so many other examples of constructive and imaginative play in his five short years!

Oh, but he was. His eyes lit up like he had found Truth after years of searching. He laughed maniacally as he ran around with the other kids, firing those brightly colored darts at targets around the yard. The look in his eyes frightened me. He had tasted the forbidden fruit and it was sweet.

It was in that moment that I wondered if our ban on guns was actually doing more harm than good. We did some research. We found that play involving weapons (including guns) is a common part of developmental play. In fact, researchers have found that children who engage in aggressive play actually demonstrate less aggressive behavior in a classroom setting. We found that there is not a statistical link between gun-play as a child and aggressive behavior as an adult. And then, we let our standards slide, just a little. 

His first toy gun was a Boba Fett blaster (complete with lights and sounds! Every parent’s dream!). He bought it with the “souvenir money” his grandparents had given him before our trip to Disney World. They gave it to him on one condition: “Don’t spend this on the first thing you see. Save it for something you will really, truly enjoy.” And he did.

After that, he saved his own money until he had enough to buy a Nerf gun. “I know you don’t like guns, Mom,” he argued, as if pleading his case before a judge and jury, “but this is my money that I’ve worked hard to save and I should get to choose how to spend it.” He had a point. And that slope of moral standards I had been standing on so righteously was growing more slippery still.

Finally, last Christmas, we slid all the way down. We gave our not-so-little boy and his not-so-much younger brother matching mini-Nerf guns. As they headed down to the basement with their new weapons, my husband said, “Aim for the chest and lower.” I tossed them some goggles from the toy workbench in the playroom and said, “Wear these. And play fairly.”

So my neighbors were right about a few things. My baby did grow up and he does love guns. But, contrary to their beliefs, he will never have realistic looking AirSoft rifles in his room. Ever. As my views on gun play have evolved over the course of my parenthood, a few rules remain true:

  1. We don’t point toy guns (or sticks, Duplos, or fingers) at people or animals, with the Nerf Exception: If using Nerf darts, you can blast them towards each other’s bodies (not their faces) if you both have a Nerf gun, you both agree to the game, and you’re wearing goggles or sunglasses.
  2. We only play with toy guns in the house or in the backyard.
  3. We ask a friend’s permission (or their parents’ permission) before playing games involving weapons.
  4. We will only ever own or play with toy guns that are brightly colored. We will not use toy guns that look real. No exceptions.
  5. Nerf darts are okay, but any other projectile fired by a gun (BBs, pellets, etc.) are strictly off limits. Oh, and that new Nerf gun that fires balls at nearly 70 mph? Um, yeah, no.

Lesson Learned:
Once we relaxed our Gun Ban and welcomed them (conditionally) into our home, we noticed that the alarming, fiery look in my son's eye when he first got his hands on a Nerf gun was gone. He's still a walking, talking weapons encyclopedia and he still uses his Boba Fett blaster or Nerf guns regularly, but he'd just as happily play with his Legos or pick up a book. Believe it or not, that's just fine with me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Important Post

The Important thing about Evan is that he is a Thinker.

He is a knower and a learner and and a discoverer of Facts and Information. When interested in a topic, he reads and reads and reads until he knows everything he wants to know. If you engage him in a conversation about Star Wars, World Wars 1 or 2, military weaponry, animals, Greek mythology, Ancient Roman military strategy, Harry Potter, or Percy Jackson, plan to stay put for a bit...until he's had a chance to share All He Knows with you. He is detail-oriented. He is a Thinker.

Evan is also a big brother. He is a story-writer, an illustrator, a Lego-builder, a puppy-snuggler, a Minecrafter, a baby whisperer, a book-devourer, and a pretend-player. Fairness and justice are his Core Values.

He prefers to figure out his own way through life and does not appreciate suggestions or advice on how to conduct his own business, thankyouverymuch. He takes his time, watching and learning, mentally rehearsing new skills before attempting them. Once ready to try, he has already nearly mastered the skill. Evan is not swayed by the movement of the crowd. He chooses his own path with confidence and remains on that path with unwavering determination. His will and his mind are strong.

Evan is my first-born son. The child who made me a mother.

But the Important thing about Evan is that he is a Thinker.


The Important thing about Max is that he is a Feeler.

He is emotional and expressive and he wears his heart on his sleeve. When he's angry or sad, he draws or writes until his feelings have been softened and his message has been delivered. When he's happy or excited, he is in constant motion, unable to contain his feelings to the inside of his body. He hugs tightly, sings loudly, speaks every word that passes through his mind, and cares deeply about the feelings of others. Max's eyes betray his every thought and emotion. He is an open book. He is a Feeler.

Max is a little brother and a big brother. He is a creator, a singer, a dancer, an accessorizer, an imaginer, a dreamer, and an artist. Kindness is his Core Value.

He knows who he is and has an innate understanding of the Way The World Should Be. Other peoples' negative actions disappoint him greatly. He is thoughtful and considerate of others. Max's heart beats compassion. He is brave, sensitive, and joyful. He is playful and full of ideas. He fills his world with sparkle.

Max is my middle child. The bridge between his siblings.

But the Important thing about Max is that he is a Feeler.


The Important thing about Molly is that she is a Doer.

She is constantly surprising me with the Big Kid abilities that come from her tiny little body. She writes and speaks and pretends and has the sass of someone much older than not-yet-four. She can keep up with her brothers in their level of play and sense of adventure. She sometimes leaps before looking, but not without giving it a passing thought, and never without the confidence of someone who knows she's Got This. She is brave. She is capable. She is a Doer.

Molly is also a little sister. She is clever and creative, patient and persistent. A puzzler, a Lego-er, a painter, an I'll-Do-It-Myself-er. Perseverance is her Core Value.

The Olaf to Max's Elsa, the Ahsoka to Evan's Anakin, Molly plays the role of the trusty sidekick well. But be sure to include her in the game or she will make her usually-tiny voice heard, largely demanding a role. She is a vegetarian by choice (with the exception of bacon, who can blame her?); a lover of all things furry. She is funny and dramatic and kind.

Molly is my Baby. The last chapter in my book of becoming a mother.

But the Important thing about Molly is that she is a Doer.


The Important thing about me is that I am their Mother.

Yes, I'm other things, as well. I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. A writer, a reader, an over-thinker, a careful decision-maker, a learner.

An introvert, an agnostic, a liberal.

A rule follower. A list-maker.

A labeler.

But the Important thing about me is that I am their Mother.

Lesson Learned:

I don't always pigeon-hole my children into distinct personality-types, but when I do, it's because I've been inspired by a children's book.

With respect and gratitude to Margaret Wise Brown, author of one of my favorites, The Important Book.