Category Archives: Siblings

The Greatest Teachers

Jessica, Allen, and AidenAllen, when he was three years old, told me one morning, “I love you.” Then he went on to say, “And I love Daddy and I love Aiden and I love Jessica…” He continued until he had named pretty much every person he knew or could remember at the time.

Children have so much love to share and give. It is contagious.

A few days later, he was giving a multitude of kisses and cuddles to my husband. Aiden, who was turning one that day, and was fully focused on his birthday gift, placed it down and crawled up to daddy and likewise started giving him “kisses.”

As adults, we tend to withhold love, forgiveness, and time, giving it to those who we feel deserve it. Or those who are in our “good books” at the time. Amazing how three-year-old’s (and one-year-old’s) naturally recognize the contagious and beautiful power of love. Perhaps that is one reason Jesus said we would do well to become like children—not only to enter the Kingdom one day, but to also enter a place of joy, peace, spontaneity and love in our everyday lives. Sometimes I feel my children are teaching me every bit as much as I am teaching them – probably a lot more.

A Night without Sherbet

sharing sherbet

It was past midnight. And it had been a long day. I woke up at 6 to get that bit of extra time I knew I needed. Packing. Cleaning. Finishing up some work. And then, once my husband and kids got home from work and school, respectively, driving to the coast.

The drive took less than three hours and here we were, at a large vacation rental home my mom had set up for our extended family to celebrate my dad’s birthday and retirement. Family members trickled in over the next few hours. We took a “short” walk to the beach, which ended up being a very long walk, and the kids watched a movie.

But finally, it was getting to be one of my favorite parts of the day: night. Bedtime.

My husband and I and the two boys were in one room, so I made up a bed for my older son on the floor. Blankets. Pillow. Sheets. It took a while to find where everything was hidden. My husband had collapsed into bed and fallen asleep a little while earlier. My youngest clambered into bed next to him.

“Mommy, can I have Sherbet and Sunshine?”

Sherbet is Aiden’s sherbet-colored dolphin. Sunshine is the yellow rabbit he got on Easter. I pulled them out of his backpack and gave them to him. He snuggled down with them.

“Mommy, I left my cuddle toys in the car.” It was Allen, sitting up in his makeshift bed on the floor.

“Allen, the car is locked now. Daddy’s gone to sleep and I don’t know where the keys are.”

I hated seeing him so disappointed, but he didn’t say a word. Allen lied back down on the floor, his head only about a foot away from the open door. Darkness loomed from the vast entrance area, and a staircase was right around the corner.

I remembered sleeping in strange places, new places. How difficult it was to fall asleep. I usually had a sister or two (or three) to sleep with, so I didn’t feel alone; crowded was often more the word for it.

“Aiden, do you think Allen could have one of your cuddle toys, just for the night?”

Aiden blinked open his eyes wide. “No,” he said simply.

I heard Allen give out a little moan, but he still didn’t say anything.

“Why don’t we pray for the night?” I asked. I didn’t want to push the issue and hoped and that Allen would be alright. After all, he was seven years old. He’s a big boy.

After a short prayer, Aiden sat up.

“Allen, you can have Sherbet and Sunshine for the night.” He climbed over the side of the bed with his two favorite stuffed toys and tucked them in next to his brother.

Within minutes, both boys were asleep it had been a long day full of excitement and adventure. But I think the best part was seeing a little boy give his little cuddle creatures to his brother so he wouldn’t feel alone.

 

When has a child in your life surprised you with an act of giving or sharing (sometimes out of the blue)? Would love to hear it. Please leave your comments below.

Summer Days a’Coming

Two Girls in Swimming PoolThis morning I saw a comment from an acquaintance on Facebook, about the upcoming summer break and having more time with her children. I followed the discussion thread, which got a little heated because of the variety of responses by mothers. A homeschooling mother was looking forward to summer for different reasons than her counterpart whose children go to school. Some mothers didn’t seem to be looking forward to the summer. One admitted there were times when she didn’t necessarily “like” her children, especially when they’re all at home. Another mother responded with, “How can you expect others to like them if you don’t like them?”

Yes, it was a little heated. After all, summer is around the corner.

Last week I did my finals for the semester. Tomorrow is my kids’ last day at school. I spent some time this week just thinking about and trying to plan for summer. Due to the busyness of the semester and other things going on at home and with my family, I feel that I’ve lost ground in my relationship with my children.

One of them has been going through a phase that is lasting longer than I expected. I’m starting to fear that it is turning into a perspective on life rather than a stage. This worries me because it has to do with having a “can’t do” mindset about things.

I know that, as a mother, my first responsibility this summer is to my children … as it always is. If one of them is going through something and it’s coming out through their words and outlook on life, it needs attention.

There are plenty of other things going on. I’m teaching courses for the first time in my life (and for a woman who still struggles with social anxiety, this is a huge thing. I’m shaking in my boots and though excited I’m asking myself, What on earth did I get into?)

As soon as I drove away from campus last Thursday after finals, my mind started racing ahead to everything I can read this summer, everything that I hope to write … and then skipped over to home improvement projects. My sister and her kids moved out this last weekend, so with the kids’ room changes, I have more than a little bit of cleaning and organizing to do.

I had to stop myself. I want the kids to enjoy their summer. A few years ago, I made a comprehensive (and overly ambitious) summer plan. Needless to say, we accomplished maybe one item on it. This summer, although I worked on a schedule of sorts, I tried to leave it a lot more flexible this time around.

I know they’re eager to swim this summer. After all, it’s Fresno and temperatures are already pushing past 100. (And I’m hoping that swimming will make up for my lack of exercise during the first five months of this year.) We’ll have chores and a Bible class before swimming/activity time, which will knock two things off my mental “teach-my-children” list.

Cleaning up after themselves, with the three of them living in the same room over the past year, has slid more than a little bit. Having chore time together will help us begin on the right note.

Bible class time is another thing that drifted to the back burner, during school days and even some weekends. That is one thing I need to keep as a priority. I know what grace and patience and faith my times with God grant me and I want my children to experience something of the same.

That’s the general idea of our schedule, at least the most important things: fun, faith, and family. I have a few other ideas/ projects/ hopes for the summer, but need to wait until I’ve had time to discuss them with the kids and see what they are hoping for.

So overall, if the discussion hadn’t already been so heated, I think I would say I’m looking forward to the summer. I’m excited about spending more time with my kids. I know there will be challenges – sibling disputes, messes left around, uninspired moments – but the prospects far outweigh any difficulties. After all, it’s a whole season of fun and sun and crazy-excited kids with the world ahead of them. What could be better?

What are your plans this summer? Do you go on vacation? Relax at the poolside? Tackle a family project? Please leave your thoughts and input below. We can share ideas about how to make this a great summer for both parents and children.

Moment in the Mundane

Lindsay Story Pin

Read the rest of the story here

How She Does It – Mother’s Day Contest Entry

CharlotteHow She Does It

By Charlotte Storm

“How does she stay so calm?” I have mentally asked myself this question plenty of times. While I am hyperventilating, she still manages to act like a normal human being.

My brother is a hyperactive package of heart-attacks-waiting-to-happen wrapped up in a wiry, lanky kid. When he was three, he climbed on top of our car; just a few months ago he fell into a river, a deeper-than-he-can-stand-in river, but he picked flowers for her to try and compensate for the fact that he was soaked, so that made it all okay.

I don’t know how she is still sane; I still get all hyped up when he smashes something or does something COMPLETELY INSANE, but somehow she knows how to handle it.

I am convinced that my mom is a superhero. I mean, how else could she deal with my brother, sister, and me? I (for one) know very well that I am an extremely difficult person. What with my mood swings, constant nagging, and paranoid personality, I can hardly stand to be around myself, so I don’t know how she does it.  And besides that, she manages to single-handedly run this circus show that we call our house.

Like all teenagers, I can’t wait to move out. I want my freedom and my space. But when I really think about life without my mom (aka cook, laundry lady, cleaner, therapist, psychiatrist, and counselor), it gives me a headache. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that the fridge won’t refill itself, the laundry won’t wash itself, and the house won’t clean itself, unless I actually do all of it—myself!

It’s a horrifying thought, and it leads me into thinking things like: “Why grow up at all?” or “Living with your mom your whole life doesn’t sound THAT bad.”

I have a little nervous breakdown when the store runs out of my favorite chips and I have to actually make a decision! Good thing I still have a while to learn about the big, bad world.

I’d like to let all you mothers know that there is kid over here who thinks you are incredible. I really don’t think I could ever handle the stuff you go through; the responsibility or stress and the list goes on and on. It really amazes me how you can turn a house into a home, crying into laughter, and take care of us little bundles of trouble.

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

About Charlotte Storm: My name is Charlotte and I’m 15 years old. I love to write and create my own little worlds in my head. My crazy family is often the fuel for my writing and my inspiration.

[Like this story on our Facebook page to help the author win Positive Parenting’s Mother’s Day Writing Contest! (You’re welcome to “like” it here too! :)]

Every Special Moment

Jessica, Allen, and Aiden

The three siblings, when Aiden was a baby.

My son’s birthday was last week. The youngest in our little five-member family, Aiden, is now five. The past week has flown by so fast. The five years have flown by so fast.

Sometimes I wish that I had made note of every special moment. Somehow recorded it or remembered it. They go by so fast and too often pass into that place that seems almost oblivion (but perhaps is kept somewhere … somehow … by Someone).

But I remember a few, and they bring a smile to my face when I think of them.

My son running up to me as I got out of the car last Tuesday – his birthday. “Mom, mom!” His excited shout, his joyful face.

“What?” Waiting to hear what interesting thing he’d been doing with daddy while I was at college.

“I’m five years old now!” he exclaims wrapping his little arms around my waist and squeezing tight. I know he’s five. I’ve been helping him count down the days for the past month or so every time he’s asked, “How many days is it until my birthday?”

Kind of like I did five years ago waiting for him to arrive on the scene, which he did after only five hours of labor. As with everything else in my little boy’s life and schedule, I guess he didn’t want it to last too long because he gets bored quickly. I can picture him in my tummy. Okay, enough of those squeezy contraction things. Let’s get this show on the road. I definitely didn’t mind him hurrying things along that time.

Another snapshot highlight of the past week occurred a couple nights ago. It was past “lights out” time. And the boys still had the lights on. I peeked into the room, ready to help them turn off the light and get into bed (little boys seem to forget sometimes). And Aiden was sitting next to his big brother, Allen, my seven year old who would opt for drawing over reading any day. But he sat next to Aiden and read him every page of a storybook. I kept the light on for a few more minutes.

Then there was Saturday, when we celebrated Aiden’s birthday. I’m always nervous about parties, especially hosting them. As simple as I usually keep them, there is always the unknowable factor of children; who knows when and how hurt feelings or frustration will develop, and why it seems to increase exponentially with each kid added to the mix? Although there were a couple huffy moments and a squabble or two on the side, for the most part the kids got along great and had a blast. I think the big kids (aka adults) had fun too.

And the next evening, Aiden handing his new Hot Wheels hovercraft and tow truck to his little cousin, telling her, “You can keep this with you for the night.” I had to do a double take. Did my son just share his new birthday toy with someone else? Maybe those repeated pep talks about the joy of sharing (that I and my husband have been giving him half of his life) are finally getting through!

Every smile is a highlight. Every hug. Every question that exposes a mind thinking and feeling and growing. Yes, the challenging moments definitely exist and at times can seem like all there is. But I guess it depends on what we, as parents, focus on. Perhaps seeing my son turning five and growing up so fast has caused me to try to focus more on the good, the brighter points, during the past week.

But if so, I hope to make it somewhat of a habit.

What methods work for you in recording the high points of parenting? (One friend of mine posts all her fun parenting highlights on Facebook and that’s her way of keeping a record.) Do you have any tips on focusing on “the brighter points” of parenting and keeping a positive perspective in spite of the tougher moments of being a mother or father? Would love to hear from you in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

Jess, Allen, Aiden 2013

The siblings today. A day at the lake, Autumn 2013.

From the Heart of a Child

A Bead RingWe had been in our new house (well, new for us) for a couple weeks now, yet the garage still held a number of boxes. I tried to get an early start one morning, carrying in my craft boxes to the family room one at a time, going through them and organizing them, and finally moving them into the closet. While I sorted through one box, my daughter Jessica noticed a container of beads.

“Can I play with these?” Jessica asked.

“Me too?” Aiden, the youngest, jumped up and ran over as well.

I gave them the container of colorful plastic letters and shapes and asked them to work on plates so the beads wouldn’t spill onto the carpet.

“I’m going to make something for you, Mommy, so don’t look until I’m done,” Jessica told me.

I finished with the boxes and, as the kids were still busy with the beads, I went into the kitchen to make them sandwiches for lunch. I was nearly done when Jessica came running in, showing me a string of color. “This is for you,” she called out. “The green bead is supposed to be the middle, because green is your favorite color. Can you tie it for me?”

“One second,” I answered and turned to rinse my peanut-buttery hands. I heard rather than saw what happened. The untied string slipped and the beads fell to the ground, scattering on the tile. She bent down immediately and started picking them up without a word. “I’ll make another one,” she said, trying to smile.

“I’m sorry, sweetie,” I tried to reassure her. “It was beautiful and I’m sure the next one will be even better.”

I was cleaning my bedroom when she came in next. “This time I used the letters,” she called out to me. She reached forward and somehow Aiden crashed into her at just the right (or wrong) time. She lost her grip on the untied necklace. I didn’t even see the pattern before the pieces fell to the floor. This time, I saw the tears although she tried to hide them by picking up the beads once more.

“I bet it was beautiful,” I said. She shook her head. I gave her a hug. “Are you going to try again?” She nodded and ran off.

A little while later, she ran out to the patio where I was helping my husband set up a few things. She handed me something. “It’s a bracelet this time.” I quickly grabbed it before it fell and tied the ends tightly. The “bracelet” could have fit on a doll’s wrist. I tied it and Jessica noticed that it was a little small.

My sister, who had come for a visit, said it could be a ring. “Maybe it’s better as a ring,” Jessica said hesitantly. I slipped it on my finger and my daughter smiled.

Of course, I couldn’t keep a ring of beads on my finger, but I found a perfect place for it. On the top shelf of our computer table I keep a few odd items:

  • A bit of PVC pipe and a ping-pong ball — visual aids from a writer’s workshop I attended last year
  • A small plastic hourglass — a reminder to make the most of every minute
  • A tiny drum ornament on top of which are a penny, a toy car wheel and a golden bee-bee — a unique gift from my son

And now, added to those, is a tiny bracelet-ring made of colorful plastic beads — to help me remember the gifts that come from the heart of a child: adaptability, perseverance, and love.

School Spirit Week

My Little PrincessToday is the last day of “spirit week” at my kids’ school. Each day they could dress up in a different theme.

Tuesday was Superhero or Disney.

Wednesday was Hillbilly

Thursday was Favorite Book Character

Friday, today, is Senior Citizen

We got the information slip last week and I took the kids shopping on Sunday afternoon. Why I even though that I would be able to find full, ready-made costumes nowhere near Halloween, I had no idea, but we were hopeful as we went from store to store. I found accessories – a hat, some hair ties – and a couple of backpacks on sale for their next school year, but no outfits.

“We’ll find something at home,” I assured them, promising myself that I would make it a priority and not wait until last-minute to help them find costumes.

Then there I was, Tuesday morning, tearing through the kids’ closet to find that last princessy dress that still fit my daughter. I mixed and matched a few ideas for Allen (he wanted to dress up as Wyatt from Super Why); he declined. “I’ll just go in my normal school uniform,” he told me.

I felt like a failure, especially when I saw the picture that the school principal posted of the kids, all in amazing costumes, and my son was absent from the photo.

He’s probably going to feel bad about it, I thought to myself. I better tell my husband to give him some extra attention this afternoon and evening. I was attending classes until after their bedtime. I only remember to ask how Allen was at about 11:30 that night.

“He seemed fine,” my husband said.

The next morning, we found some hillbilly outfits. Well, more like cowboy outfits. These had been the only costumes we had worked out from the previous week, and somehow this morning they weren’t good enough.

“My teacher said we’re supposed to wear things that are full of patches,” my daughter said.

“I’m sure she just was trying to give you ideas if you didn’t have anything to wear already,” I answered.

She pulled her face, that face that means she totally doesn’t agree and wants to make that fact very apparent without saying a word.

My husband walked into the kitchen. I fumed to him, “Suddenly everything everyone else says is the Gospel truth and anything I say has to pass some litmus test.”

He laughed. “I’ll help them get dressed.”

By the time I had finished making their lunches, they were in costume – the ones we had picked out last week – and they were both happy.

The next day, Jessica was Violet from the Boxcar series (how easy is that? Pull out everything violet that you own and wear it.) Allen decided to dress up as Christopher Robin, complete with the Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear that he had gotten from a friend last year.

This morning, I took a deep breath before going into the kids’ room to wake them up. I knew what I had in mind that they could wear, but I realized that didn’t mean they would want to wear it.

“I don’t want to dress up today,” Allen told me as soon as he rolled over and opened his eyes.

Oh no, I thought, someone teased him about his costume yesterday. I gently inquired why not. Everything seemed okay. He just didn’t want to dress up.

Jessica readily agreed with the outfit I suggested to her. It took a while to get her hair done up in bun complete with baby-powder grey, but it looked good. I was happy with myself, and with her. I was happy with Allen too, even if he didn’t want to dress up.

I said goodbye to an old woman and a little boy, on their way to school. So my son won’t be in the picture with the rest of his class in costume. That’s okay. Every kid is different; and every one of them is precious. I couldn’t imagine loving them more.

And I’m thankful Spirit Week only happens once a year. I think I just found a grey hair … and it’s not baby powder.

Brotherly Love

mashed potatoesMy younger son, Aiden, came down with a fever in the middle of the night. By ten in the morning, he was on the upswing, and I was completely exhausted.

By mid-afternoon, however, his fever returned with a vengeance and he didn’t want me to leave his side. I was trying to figure out how to make dinner before the two older kids and my husband went for our mid-week Bible study.

My older son, Allen, came into the darkened room. “Does Aiden need anything?” he asked.

Aiden was resting halfway on my lap and it was all I could do to sit still, thinking of everything that needed to get done.

“No thanks, Allen,” I answered, attempting to move out from under my feverish son.

“Don’t go anywhere, mommy.” His hot hand held on to mine.

So much for that.

I called Allen back into the room. “Actually, there is something you can do.” Even in the darkness, I saw his face light up.

“Can you peel and wash a few potatoes for dinner?” I told him where to find them and the potato peeler.

“Sure, mom.”

By the time Aiden had fallen asleep enough for me to slip out of the room, Allen had peeled and washed the potatoes.

“Can I do anything else?” He was almost jumping up and down.

“Do you want to cut them too?”

“Sure!” We worked side by side until Aiden woke up again, calling for me.

While I was back in the room, Allen washed and cut a plate full of celery sticks.

After dinner was finished, Allen hovered around the room, keeping an eye on Aiden. He ran to get him water, got a damp cloth to cool his forehead, and brought one stuffed animal after another.

“It’s such a quiet evening, mommy,” Allen told me, “without Aiden talking.”

I thought about a typical evening, with Allen starting some activity and his little brother commandeering it – wanting to play with his cars or his Legos or draw on his art board. Usually, anything that Allen wants to do, Aiden is right in there, often taking charge in his not-always-so-gallant manner.

And this evening, when Allen could be playing in peace to his little heart’s content, he’s hovering around his little brother like a hummingbird.

I remember when I was young, my mom often quoting a verse to us six not-always-so-loving siblings: “Let brotherly love continue.”

Now that I’m a mom, all I can say is, “Amen, pass the potatoes.”