BLACKOUT!

Ok, so I’m not really into potty training. Adeia’s been a pro about it for  awhile now, and I’m not exactly rushing to train Alethea. So this month, when Adeia suddenly developed a fear of going to the bathroom alone, I was….unthrilled.

So there’s been weeks of questioning, mild threats (“You’re a big girl, so if you pee on the floor I’m handing you the mop.”) and even begging.

“Why don’t you want to go by yourself?”
“I don’t want to.”
“But why?”
“I…need help.”
“But you don’t!”
“Well, I….forgot how…and now I do.”

And so on.

And this brings us to today. Today, I made good on my threats. I stonewalled her.

“Mom, I need to go potty!”
“Ok, go ahead.”
“I NEED HELP!”
“Sorry kiddo! You can do it!”
“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!”

Silence.

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!”

Silence

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!”””

Silence.

“Ok fine. Whatever.” *tinkling sounds*

After silently high-fiving myself several times, I decided it was time for an appropriately knowing parental pep-talk: “See? I knew you could do it! What were you so worried about!”
“Well….what if there was a

mumble mumble

…”
“A what?”
“A BLACKOUT Mom. A BLACK OUT. I’m afraid there will be a blackout, that’s why I want you in here… SO I WON’T BE ALONE IN THE DARK!”

Ok, let’s just pause here. First of all, I don’t think the slim probability of a blackout while I’m on the pot has ever crossed my mind. Secondly, where did my child even HEAR about a blackout? Are they teaching about power grids and energy consumption on Sesame Street now? Is this because I let her watch School House Rock?

This does explain a weird little quirk I’ve noticed lately: frantically turning all the lights out in every room in the house. She’s seriously been afraid that she’s single-handedly going to overload the grid by having too many lights on, or by running the bathroom fan AND the light at the same time. My three year old.

“Adeia…a blackout really only happens during something like a heatwave or a bad thunderstorm. It’s not going to happen just because the lights are on.”

“Oh. I didn’t realize that. Oh.” *hops off the potty*

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You say you want REVIVAL?

I hear a lot about revival. Pray for revival. Fast for revival. Write songs for revival. Clap your hands and shout for it. Wave a flag.

By themselves those things are something like sticking your finger into a socket and hoping the lights will turn on. It’s a whole lot of power going absolutely nowhere.

If I’m supposed to be a Christian, I should probably act like Jesus. Jesus didn’t fast and pray in the temple and wait for us to come to him asking for salvation. He clothed himself like us and went and lived life like us, and ate our food, and spoke our language, and went to our parties. He was friends with us. He ate dinner with us at our house BEFORE we looked like him, when we still had idols and were prostituting ourselves on weekends. He connected to us.

Why? Because the kingdom of God is built on relationship, with relationships. Father, Son and Spirit. It’s not about principles and authority and prayer. That’s all the other world religions. It isn’t even about worship. It’s about one thing: restoring broken relationships, and building family.

You want to end abortion? Love somebody before they get to the clinic door, don’t just stand there with tape over your mouth! Have you ever met anyone who got pregnant out of wedlock? Out of relationship? I have! I didn’t meet her on the doorstep of a clinic. I already knew her and loved her.  Have you ever been friends with a prostitute, or a gay man, or a lesbian? Like had their phone number? Have you been to their house? Have you given them a Christmas gift? Have you stayed up late to cry with them on the phone when they tell you WHY they’re gay?

Don’t despise the weak, vulgar, and broken when they cuss and drink and sleep around. Don’t raise your eyebrow and cross to the other side of the street. Do you know who did that? Do you remember that story?

If you want laws and morality to change, love people. If you want revival, love people. Love never fails.

I think we’ve got a ridiculous idea of what revival is, and where it comes from. See, revival comes when you REVIVE someone who is dead. That means, first of all, that you have to actually be somewhere dead people are. Dead people don’t walk up to you and say, “Hi, I’m Mr Dead guy. I want to live. Please, revive me.” Nope.

You have to be where the dead person is. You have to already be in the gutter, and see them before it’s too late, lying there. Then you have to lock lips with them and breathe your own breath into them, and pound on their chest with your own hands, on your own time. You’re going to get wet and dirty and close. Revival is a proximity thing. It happens when you want LIFE for an actual person you love so badly that you pump it back into them yourself. And if you want them to stay alive, then you have to help them while they learn to breathe by themselves again. You might have to let them live in your house, or pay for them to get help while they recover. Do you remember that story?

Prayer is like electricity. It can only bring power to things you are connected to. Where are you getting your haircut? Where do you drink your coffee? Are you reading your bible on your lunch break, or are you connected to the people you work with?

You are the Body of Christ. God wants your hands and feet. The more you say you’re called to a ‘life of prayer,’ the more I say you are called to be connected. Be connected to God. Be connected to people. Intercession means ‘standing in the gap,’ right? So stick your finger in the socket and grab onto someone who needs to be revived. Be prayer. Be intercession. Don’t be lip-service to the ideology of revival. Be a Reviver.

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Shmeducational.

Remember Schoolhouse Rock? Let’s be honest. It was awesome. Back in the day, education programming actually taught something.

And when you were tired of singing along to conjunction and adverb related jams recorded by actual studio artists, you went outside to play and imagined things, because you still had an imagination.

Now we have…..DORA?

Do you now what my children learned from Dora?  They learned to speak gibberish. Now my daughter walks around and boldly declares, “SCHMIGLESFOODLE!! THAT’s orange in SPAAAaaaAAANIiiiIIIISH!!”

That’s what happens when you toss around educational sounding things out of context, and then repeat yourself, “LOUDER!!! RAAaaaAAAPiiiIIIIDOoO!”

I’ve watched a few Dora Episodes, and I’ve made an observation. Each storyline culminates in Dora or Boots feigning that they are incapable of solving a basic problem. At that point, they call upon the viewer for help with the obvious, whether that be finding something that is lying in plain view, or shouting incoherently at an inanimate object.

Lesson: Don’t solve your own problems, no matter how simple. Shout at someone else to do it.

Sigh.

Today Adeia asked what electricity was. So I turned on School House Rock.  And she now understands it (roughly), and turns off the lights when she leaves the room. Take that Dora.

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When mom’s happy….

…everyone is happy!

My mom said that a lot.

And it’s true. So today, I tackled the thing that annoys me most of ALL THINGS EVER. I call it “convenient forgetfulness.” Really, it’s not that anyone’s forgetting anything. It’s when my three-year-old sees that I’m busy, and seems to forget that the house has any rules at all, or consequences for breaking them. And then when I get off the phone, I’m greeted with total anarchy, and bust my lungs lecturing and doling out consequences that are resented and balked at, and then I spend all my energy enforcing them and ignoring the tirade of a tiny would-be-tyrant. Usually the rest of the day is spent at war. All for a phone call.

So today, I made a phone call. And suddenly, my vase had flowers stolen from it, my refrigerator was raided and rice was all over the floor, and during the ensuing time-out, a counterattack was staged, the bathroom raided, and toothpaste appeared in the hair of my children. Clearly, there were forces trying to get my goat.

Holy crap. Who is this kid?

So I told Adeia I needed some time to think over everything that had just happened. And after twenty minutes, I came up with this:

Her brain must be too tired to make good choices. What’s better for a tired brain than a nap? Am I right? And guess what? I told her really excitedly that she could have a free nap, because I care about her brain. Yep, I just love her that much. No sarcasm, super empathetic. Like, “it must be TERRIBLE to be so tired! I’d hate that!”

Remarkably, there was no resistance. She was so confused by the concern that she asked me for a consequence instead. i said, “No way! You’re way too tired for that!”

So after 20ish minutes of rest, I checked on her.

“Is your brain feeling better?”
“Yep! I have so much energy.”
“Well, I don’t know. I don’t want to tire you out. I mean, how can I be sure? What if you cleaned up your blocks. Do you have energy for that?”
“THERE’S SO MANY! I CAN’T DO IT!”
“Oh, don’t worry! I don’t want you to be over tired! You just rest some more. I’ll tuck you in!”
“NO NO WAIT! I can clean them up!”
“I’m so glad you’re feeling better.”

This was such a good deal for me. I am using this forever and ever. I wish I’d though of it sooner.

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Fun with parenting.

Lets see, it’s been a billion years since we’ve posted. I between now and then: I had a job, Refe got a new job, I quit my job, we moved to Kansas City, and Refe got a new new job. All of which has been loads of fun and energy.

There are lots of things that are loads of fun and take loads of energy: skiing (which I don’t know how to do), producing a major motion picture, and parenting.

I’ve been doing a lot of that last one, and I came to some conclusions: My kids are alarmingly smart, and I cannot control anything that they do. Honestly. Oh, and they see through all my attempts to try.

For instance: Today I was trying to motivate my two-year old to eat her chicken nuggets. So I offered chocolate chips to any child who should happen to finish their food. Here’s the response I got:

Alethea (2): “Ok! I put nuggets in trash. Gone. Chips now.”
Adeia (3): “Mom, that’s bait. Right?”

Sure, I can keep offering the nuggets, but no one’s going to eat them, and no one cares about the chocolate chips that much. Really. Not a motivator. Neither is punishment. And my kids have an incredible tolerance for hunger.

The fact that most punishments are arbitrary and not connected to the act makes it obvious that “if what I do makes mom mad, I get in trouble,” and no amount of lecturing has succeeded in convincing my kids that it’s their actions that are causing the trouble. My kids are creative little geniuses, and if they want to, say, swing like Tarzan from the curtains, there’s really no rule against it. And if I make one, they’ll find something else to do. Like paint the wall with toothpaste during their time-out, because they’re mad I punished them. “Oh, Hi Mom! Look! I painted the wall for you! Isn’t that nice?” Right now my three-year-old is in her bed for naptime. Standing on her head. Seriously. For the last ten minutes she’s been like that.

Enter Love and Logic. Basically, it’s a book I bought out of desperation because it had a bright orange cover, and said it didn’t believe that I could or should control my kids. (And I can’t, so I was interested.) It DID however, say that I could raise kids who think for themselves, and make responsible choices.

Anyway, I’ve never had so much fun parenting.

Here’s my favorite examples:

Adeia’s had a “listening problem” lately. As in, her hearing becomes impaired the moment I’m calling her, or talking about cleaning up, etc, etc. “I didn’t hear you, Mom.” Weeks of frustration. Then, a light:

“Adeia… ADEIA??” I turn to Refe. “OH NO! Something is wrong with ADEIA!”

“What is it?”

“She can’t hear me anymore! I think there must be something in her ear that’s blocking it. Maybe if we turn her upside down it will come out!” Refe holds her up by her legs.

And suddenly, her hearing came back! It was amazing. Of course, we had to test it. “Adeia, see if you can hear this.” *whispering* “Clean up your room.” And, desperate to prove her healed status, she cleaned. It’s incredible how much her hearing is improving. All I have to do is mention the cure, and she’s all ears.

The downside is, it’s been taking forever to figure out how to apply these creative solutions. See, I’m really not into tantrums. Or power struggles. My kids are REALLY into them. So my side has to be all smiles and cheerful looks, or else the sense the weakness and make a bid for control. And if they can’t have it, they’ll make my life as inconvenient as possible in the meantime.

Some of you might not believe me. You’re thinking, “My kid behaves. I’m just firm. I’m the boss. AUTHORITY!” I can’t drill sergeant my kids around. I tried! I was all about it! Besides, if I do that, they’ll be incapacitated to make their own decisions later in life, and just go along with whoever is yelling at them the loudest. Peers, media, whatever.”

So now my goals have changed. Everything is about giving them the options, and letting them figure out the best choice. And consequences are natural-ish, not a reactionary punishment meant to control behavior. While I figure out how to do that, I’ll blog the bizarre things I encounter, and the utterly hilarious failures and successes.

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Awesome.

This is what happened today:

"I'm a coloring EXPERT!"

"I'm a coloring EXPERT!"

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Opposite Day

I’ve tried to teach opposites to Adeia for some time now:

“Adeia! HOT and COLD are opposites! This is hot. What’s the opposite of hot?” “

“Very hot!”

“….Um, close. It’s not the same as hot though…. it’s different. It’s ‘not hot.’ If something is ‘not hot’ it’s……”

“Opposite!!!”

So you see how successful I’ve been… Anyway, today I decided to teach Alethea the word “open” because she kept closing my flip phone and wanting it open. And then screaming at the top of her lungs until I opened it. Which hurt my head. So I was showing her the phone and idiotically saying, “Open! Oooooo-PEN. OPEN!” when Adeia (who was feeling mischevous) piped up and said, “NO! CLOSED!”

In other good news, Alethea now screams “PEN!!!!” at the top of her lungs instead of yelling incoherantly. We’ll work on volume control next. (Although neither side of the family really has that down. )

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