Category Archives: Ruth

Ruth’s face, 2012 edition

When last we saw our fair heroine, she was bent in half from the blow to her gut leveled by Hurricane Sandy . . .

After dragging myself through November, I finally gathered the wherewithal to make it through my finals and my final papers.   I was in sight of the finish line.  It was the night before a sit-down final exam and due date for an 8-page paper for the same class (who does that to people??!!) when I received another blow.  And this one was bloody.

At 8 o’clock at night, after a lovely dinner out with dear, dear friends (celebrating the birthday of my curmudgeonly friend), Ruthie fell up the concrete steps to our third floor apartment.  When I turned to look at her, her face was dripping blood.  Dripping.  From inside her mouth and from the spot on her face where 2.5 years earlier a dog’s tooth had gone through to the inside of her mouth, a spot that had been repaired by a plastic surgeon.  I panicked.

Did she need to go to the emergency room?  Did this tear open an old wound?  WHY oh WHY?! does my poor baby have to keep suffering injuries to her face???!!

And her poor siblings!  Isaac especially, I think, continues to have some post traumatic stress from her other facial injuries: the awful dog bite when she was three and the run-in with the post when she was 17 months old.  But God bless him.  He was a trouper.  His initial response was panic and “RUN AWAY!!” but he held it together for the sake of his sister and stood firm.  Hannah, too, held it together.  Heeded my instruction to try to remain quiet and calm, to refrain from asking me too many questions as I tried to gather my own wits about me.

Have I mentioned how the Go-To Guy for all things bloody (or vomitous, or bodily-fluid-y in general) in our household is, indeed a Guy?  The Man, to be exact?  I rely more than I should on his training and experience in first aid he received as a 7-year veteran lifeguard.  Also, I do little to fight against my general response of Flight to all things stressful.  I’m the one who holds and comforts, who tends to the care of the bystanders (i.e., the siblings) and who grabs supplies like paper towels, towels, ice, and bandages on demand.  I’m like the administrative assistant in emergencies.  My husband is the calm in the storm, the level-headed, the stare-death-in-the-eye-and-declare-it-not-really-death-just-a-boo-boo Go-To Guy.

And yet, here I was.  With my youngest poor baby bleeding and scared because she’s been down this road before and it weren’t pretty.  And my oldest poor baby trying to be ever-so calm and cool and collected while his uber-empathy was trying to take him over.  And my middle poor baby who would have loved nothing more than to take charge and fix things, if only she had the answers to all her myriad questions!  And, me.  Pretending to be calm.  Pretending to know what the hell I was doing.  Pretending to be in charge and in control, reassuring everyone of things about which I had no assurance.

Finally, I concluded an emergency room was in order, but I didn’t even know where an emergency room was!  So, I left my three babies in my apartment while I went knocking on the doors of neighbors.  It only took two doors to get the information I needed (oh! how I love living in an apartment complex full of people whose vocations revolve around helping people!).  When I returned to our apartment, I found a beautiful sight.  Isaac and Hannah were in front of and along side of a sitting Ruth, rubbing her back, touching her leg, assuring her it would be OK.  They had brought out to her the big bucket of stuffed animals so she could pick out the one she wanted for comfort.  (Ruthie’s one of those stuff-animal-obsessed kids.)

My two olders.  They had set aside their own fears and anxieties enough to be present with their injured sister.  My eyes are welling up with tears now as I remember it.  I know they were scared.  I know Isaac was having flashbacks to the dog bite.  And yet, there they were:  surrounding her with their love and care.

So, off we went, just Ruthie and me.  Thankfully, Ruthie’s very lovely, wonderful, I-love-her-so-much babysitter was able to come and stay with Isaac and Hannah while I took Ruthie to the emergency room.  No stitches necessary, though as I look at the scar that remains, I still wonder if we made the right decision there.  There was so much of a scrape, I think it was hard to see what all was going on.  Her tooth had, indeed, gone right through her skin to the other side.  Her lips had begun to swell.  She was an awful mess.  But not nearly so bad as the last two facial injuries, so . . . well . . . yeah.  My poor baby.

Finally, at 10:30 PM, we returned from the hospital.  I tucked my baby into bed and went back to the table to finish up my paper that was due the next day and to try to study for the exam that was covering church and state relations from around the 8th through the 15th centuries.  No prob, bob.  ::sigh::

I skidded into the end of my semester, handing in work I can’t even read again (neither my writing nor the graders’ comments), getting grades I hadn’t seen since 10th grade, and feeling overall completely defeated, out of my league, and like a dingbat for ever considering coming back to school in the first place.  January found me in near fetal position and sucking down the entire Friday Night Lights series in the course of three weeks between semesters.

I wanted to quit.  I wanted to pack up my kids and our stuff and my books and head back home to the safety of our house.

Next up:  the apocalypse continues . . .

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Filed under academics, Family Life, Hannah, Isaac, Ruth, seminary

Facebook killed the blogging star . . . And why do we do the things we do?

I am not the first person to put to use the song from 1979 to talk about how Facebook impacts blogging, so I’m not being very creative here.  But I do think it’s true.  Not that I’ve ever been a blogging star.  Not even close.  But I know I used to share little snippets about my kids on my blog.  And pictures!  I posted pictures of my kids!

And now?  Well, today I wanted to go back to my blog-every-day plan, but I don’t have much in the way of thoughts floating through my head this morning.  But I did have some Adventures in Ruthie I thought I could share.  But then I realized I already shared all about them on Facebook.  And since I only have a handful–or two–of friends who read my blog, and most, if not all, are my Facebook friends, what’s the point?  Well, except I do have that friend out there who is engaging in a Facebook freeze during Lent.  Actually, I have two friends on a Facebook freeze.  So, they might like to hear about today’s Adventures in Ruthie.

And maybe I should consider a Facebook break of my own . . . yes.  I will consider it . . .

So, now I’m at a crossroads:  Share the Ruthie story?  or ramble on about the value of Facebook?  dilemma, dilemma . . . My title implies a Facebook reflection, but my mood says To Heck with the implications of my title.

Let’s go with Ruthie today.  And maybe Facebook tomorrow.  But I’m not making any promises.  Because I’m not so adept at keeping them.  Particularly of the blogging variety.

Anyway . . . So, Ruthie.  We went to the little grocery store in our little town yesterday.  While we were climbing back into the minivan, Ruth noticed a teenaged girl wearing pajama bottoms.

WOW!

Ruthie was quick to point it out:  “Mama!  That girl!  She’s wearing pajama bottoms!  to the grocery store!!”

Knowing full well that this moment could be a defining moment for my reluctant-to-wear-clothes daughter, I brushed passed her observation with a detached, “Uh-huh.”  Conversation closed.  Success.

Until.

This morning.  I announced to Ruthie that we would run out to the store before school today, to buy some bubble stuff and sidewalk chalk in honor of spring’s arrival.  Seemingly out of nowhere–certainly out of nowhere for me, having completely forgotten yesterday’s teen attire–Ruth asks, “Mama?  Are you allllloowwed to wear pajama pants to the store?”

Clearly Ruth had not forgotten the jammy-clad adolescent from yesterday.

“Well, Ruth. . . . (think!  think! think!) . . . people are allowed to wear pajama pants to the store.  There’s no law against it.”  (Notice the generic use of the word, “people.”  Yes?  I am in no way suggesting that Ruth is allowed to wear pajama pants to the store.)

“Well,” replies Ruth.  “Am I allowed to wear pajama pants to the store?”

think.  think. think. . . . If I say yes today, am I prepared to say yes every day?  If I say yes today, am I prepared to have Ruth wear pajama pants everywhere she goes for the next 13 years?  If I say no today, am I prepared to have an extended argument with Ruth over the injustice of one person being allowed to wear pajama pants to the store, while another person is not?  Am I prepared to really dig my heels in and allow this to become a knock-down, drag-out, “Just because I’m the Mama and I say so!!” event with her?  Over pajama bottoms?!!!

No.  No I am not.

“Sure, Ruth.  You’re allowed to wear pajama bottoms to the store we’re going to today.”

And then Ruth and I proceeded to have the most pleasant trip to the store we ever have had.  She cooperated.  She looked but did not beg.  There was no screaming, no whining.  Only a perfectly polite, kind, and gentle girl on a lovely morning shopping trip with her mom.  Fighting the pajama bottoms would have created an entirely different atmosphere, and likely would have resulted in a grumpy-pants mission for bubbles and sidewalk chalk.

Not. worth. it.

It’s hard.  It’s hard to know which hills are worth dying on, which are worth surrendering.  So it is with parenting, so it is with the Church.  I could blow this out into a full-on sermon, but I won’t.  But it does make me think about the Church’s convictions.  About why we maintain them.  About how important it is for us to reflect on why, exactly, we are holding on to them.  Are they clearly commanded or required by Scripture?  Or have we been holding on to some cultural norm that wormed its way into our Christian tradition?  Those are tough questions.  And, really, the ones I’d like to wrestle with long-term.

But for now?  I’m glad that my “major” crisis this morning involved a cute little 4yo girl and her pajamas, and wasn’t a really difficult decision at all.  A cute 4yo going to the grocery store and to Dollar General, having the time of her life with her mama?  Who cares what she’s wearing?

Well.  I care.  Only in so far as it was super cute.  When I reminded Ruthie that yesterday’s teen was wearing pajama bottoms, but just a regular tee-shirt, I was thinking I could de-jammify her look, making her a bit more inconspicuous, or not quite so obviously pajama-clad.  She’d been wearing a pink fleece top with a kitty on it.  Ruth, upon remembering the teen’s regular shirt, picked out her own tee-shirt to go with her pajama pants.  I’ll let you be the judge of whether the change helped subdue her be-jammied look.

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This time I mean it . . .

I’m just writing to write.  Really.  Really really.  I would not be doing it except I really have committed to doing it every day.  Maybe I need a funny story.  What happened to all my funny stories?  What happened to all the coffee?  I’m a full-fledged addict now, I’ll have you know.  I neeeeed it.  Every morning and sometimes again later.  Now, it’s all about the dance between Ry and me to see which one of us can convince the other one to make it.  I’ve used my womanly ways.  I admit it.  I’m not above it.  And he’ll generally bribe me with childcare.  Like potty duty.

Speaking of potty duty . . . (not to be confused with potty dooty, though, you know, sometimes there’s not much difference.)  Ruthie is driving me batty with the whole potty thing.  I mean, sure, yeah yeah, I’ve earned it.  Because my first two were relatively easy.  The second one was super easy, taking it upon herself to master the skill when she was precisely 2.5.  Isaac took a bizarre and, at times, disgusting week to accomplish that milestone at 3.5.  And, true to her split-the-difference form, Ruthie’s coming into her potty mastery at the age of 3.  I hope she’ll be all done in the next two months, anyway.

Meanwhile . . . good grief!  Varying levels of commitment to say the least.  Really, yesterday it was more like she was just wearing cloth diapers instead of the super thick gotchies she had on.  She doesn’t pee all the way through them, but she pees in every one of them.  By the end of the day, she was just squealing, “Oo!  I peed in my diapah!” as she kicked her undies off her foot, watching it flip through the air.  Lovely, really.

But, all in all, as long as I take her to the bathroom like every 45 minutes, she’s OK.  Yes, I know that makes me the one who is “trained,” but it also makes me the one who, after nearly 8 years, is completely diaper free during the day.  Yes, it is every bit my milestone as Ruthie’s so I’m fine that I’m the one who’s trained.

So, there ya have it.  My funny story.  Except tonight it wasn’t funny.  Tonight we went to a community Lenten service, all five of us.  Ry was preaching and I was hanging out with the kids.  I took Ruthie to the restroom before the service began.  You know, to empty out and minimize the risk of wet drawers.  And then the child declared she had to use the bathroom at least 4 more times during the 40 minute service.  I kid you not.  But, you know, she’s at that stage . . . where sometimes she doesn’t truly take the time to empty her bladder, so she’s doing it in installments, or, possibly she’s got some other issues going on.  So, really, you feel like you must take her.  Even though most of you knows that she’s just discovered an ingenious way to get up and walk around for a while and use the really cool soap dispenser with a blinky light (who knew?!).  But still.  You go.  Because a big gross mess is at stake.

So, sadly I missed my husband’s second sermon for the day and I really think it was a good one.  Maybe he’ll read it to me later.  Or maybe we’ll collapse on the couch in a heap and split the rest of the bottle of Riesling.  Tough choice.

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Filed under being The Mommy, Family Life, milestones, Ruth, silliness

Another day, another . . .

I’m not really sure.  Certainly not a dollar.  Um.  Another kiss from a kid?  Another toddler freak-out?

I’m presently watching Ruthie do a toddler dance to the “Easter Bunny Hop” from the Veggie Tales Easter CD.  It’s very hip-hop-ish.  A song by Boyz in the Sink, for those in the know.

. . . . . .

Of course, that was two hours ago.  🙂  I was interrupted and then completely derailed.  Today I am reflecting on the fact that my husband now has two jobs.  The church thing.  And the National Guard thing.  He had about 6 phone calls this morning, all before 11AM.  Some church, some guard.  And this is his day off.  I’m laughing as I write this, be sure to hear it.  But really, I don’t think I’ve thought much about the fact that he now has a second job.  I mean, most of his work is done in one weekend a month, but soldiers can still call him and get in touch with him with questions or requests any day of the week.  So there it is.

Lots of changes around here.  More work for me, more work for him, three kids.  It’s all good.  It’s all very good.

Is it possible that I’m going to have two days in a row with no theologizing coming forth from my fingers?  Yes.  Yes I think it’s happening.  I must be tired.  I’ll go find some pictures I can include here, just for entertainment purposes.  If I can’t make you think, at least I’ll make you smile.

These are some selections from the “photo shoot” I had with Hannah and Ruth back in the fall.  These were their new, coordinating outfits.  Hannah insisted on making it a photo shoot, being quite the model.  Ruthie just wanted to eat her bag of bunnies.  This is just such a fun representation of my two, very different, girls.

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Filed under Hannah, Ruth, silliness, sisters

New Year, New Plans

So, I hear it’s a new year.  And I’ve noticed that many of the bloggers I follow are posting some pensive pieces, reflecting on the year that has passed, looking forward to the year that is to come.  So it got me thinking . . . maybe I should do that.  I’m such a copycat.

Let’s see . . . last year . . . let’s see . . . Is it too much to say, “It was the best of years, it was the worst of years . . .” ?  Probably.  And I’m not even convinced there were any parts to it that would qualify as “best.”  Well.  That can’t be true in a household with three healthy, beautiful children under eight.  Of course there were some “best of” times.  These are the magic years. . . .

Ruthie has spent most of the year as a two-year-old.  That, obviously, has brought its challenges, but at the same time, it’s brought us to the point where this whole parenting game is getting less intense every day.  Sure, sure, she yells and screams her every need, desire, and whim and you have to beg her to stop yelling at you.  And yes.  Yes, she does beat the stuffing out of her siblings on a regular basis, particularly her big sister.  But.  At the end of the day, she is super sweet and a funnier toddler there never has been.  She’s got chutzpah enough for the whole household and she lives every feeling to the fullest extent possible.  She fights hard, but she loves just as hard.  She lives with passion.  With gusto.  I look forward to seeing all of her raw energy and passion and drive come to fruition as she, with time, develops self-control and discernment.  What a joy!  What an absolute joy, this third kid o’ mine.

Isaac Boy turned seven mid-year.  I just discovered last week that not only was Isaac born on his Grandpa’s birthday, but the two of them were born within seven minutes of one another, Isaac on a Thursday, Grandpa on a Wednesday.  Isaac was happy to hear all those similarities.  I love seven.  I think seven is a wonderful, wonderful age.  He’s still full of grand ideas, but he’s acquiring more and more skills to make them happen.  He’s gained independence and asserts it very matter-of-factly.  He has nothing to prove, he simply can do some things on his own.  But seven is still little.  Still nice and little.  Even if, in the case of my boy, seven comes in a 72 lb., 54.5 inch package with a vocabulary better than most adults I know.  Seven is still little.  So my boy has a dear friend named Osbert:  a dollar store, long-armed, door-knob hanger penguin.  He named him after the penguin in a storybook of the same name and, while the little guy has been around for two years, sometime in the last six months he became Isaac’s new best friend.  I bought Osbert a Christmas present.  We bought Osbert a friend (another penguin-shaped penguin named Pete) for whom Isaac wants me to make a Santa hat and scarf like Osbert’s.  I even took Osbert to Isaac’s Christmas concert at school and held him up where he could see and wave to Isaac on the stage.  I’ve grown quite fond of Osbert myself.  At some point during the year, Isaac decided he didn’t need his blankie anymore–a sad, sad, day–but I really think Osbert came to replace the blankie rather immediately.  Apparently seven is too big for a blankie, but not too big for a beloved stuffed pal.  So, now Isaac goes to bed with Osbert right next to his cheek, and his old friend Polar Bear (who’s been around since year one) next to Osbert and Pete on the other side of Polar Bear, held in Isaac’s hand.  And every night, I tuck in and kiss goodnight all four of them:  *smack* “Goodnight, Isaac Boy.”  *smack*  “Goodnight, Osbert.”  *smack*  “Goodnight, Polar Bear.”  *smack*  “Goodnight, Pete.”  Seven year old boys are awfully nice.

Then my Hannah Girlie.  She turned five just over a month ago, so she spent the year as a four-year-old.  I’ll be honest, historically four has not been my favorite age.  But.  This is Hannah.  So, while four has not been my favorite age for her, she’s still Hannah, so even her four is sweet as can be.  I’m amazed at how she’s grown this year.  All around growth.  She has grown longer and leaner and her face has lengthened and her nose has gained a bridge.  And she’s older.  She started half-day pre-K this school year, so that adds a certain worldliness to her.  What is amazing to me is her empathy.  The thing is, that this child had empathy as a two year old, long before she ever should have been able to see past the end of her nose–ask Ruthie.  It’s not a slight, it’s just a developmental fact of life.  The world of a two-year-old revolves around herself.  And that’s OK.  But Hannah at two was worried that guests were hungry and thirsty, she was upset if someone else was hurt and sought to offer comfort.  The list goes on.  We were bowled over by it.  But now.  Now she’s at the age when she should be developing empathy.  So, she’s actually developing more.  The girl who’s always been aware of the feelings of those around her, concerned for them, caring for them, is growing even more caring and concerned.  I don’t know how big this girl’s heart is, but I’m not sure how it fits in her chest.

Well.  Now I’m just bragging.  Now I’ve turned this into one of those Christmas cards that make you gag.  Ooops.  It’s not my fault, though.  I cannot be held responsible.  It’s these kids.  They’re too great.  It has little to nothing to do with me, it’s just the way they were issued.

So, maybe this year wasn’t all bad.  It was pretty bad.  It was awfully bad in spots.  But then there were these three bright spots.  I do like these kids.  They’re keepers.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll reflect on some other stuff going on.  Don’t worry, you can eat a heavy meal beforehand, there will be no more nauseating goo streaming forth from me.  I’ll go back to my regularly scheduled sarcasm and pessimism and actually come up with some plans.  As per the title of this post.

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Filed under Family Life, Hannah, Isaac, milestones, Ruth

Falling off the face of the earth . . .

So I’ve disappeared, apparently, from Blogland.  I don’t know why.  And I’m either having deja vu or I’ve written that at least half a half a dozen time in the last month or two or three.  I wonder if it’s because I’ve been preaching more regularly lately.  Don’t know.  But today, which, according to my last post must be tomorrow, I’ll talk about my cute kids.  Cuz I can’t do that too much while I’m preaching.  Though I do have a good story about Ruthie and Communion that will likely show up in a sermon some day . . .

So, on the kid front lately . . .

We have Isaac.  Who is seven.  And I’ve decided seven is my all-time favorite age.  At least that’s my story this year.  He’s just such a neat, neat kid.  He’s really coming into his own and we don’t have to struggle over every request, and his brain can handle some more complex thoughts and conversations . . . it’s just so fun.  And he’s so nice to his sisters.  He really is.  Especially when he’s not yelling at or kicking or otherwise bringing harm to Hannah.  They’ve been playing together so much better, just really being good friends together.  I love that.  They must have spent 4 hours in their bedroom on Saturday morning, just doing some sort of imaginative project together.  Very nice.

Now that it’s November, Isaac’s year-round Halloween obsession has come to an end.  I think he actually finally released enough of his Halloween ideas into the atmosphere that he’s no longer exploding with Halloween.  He’s making a good transition into Thanksgiving.  Which is probably his second favorite holiday.  Because of the food.  And because he love love loooves having guests over and hosting events.  He loves it.  So, he’s planned out how we’re going to have our family over for Thanksgiving dinner and he’s divvied up the dishes:  daddy’s turkey, mommy’s gravy, daddy’s mashed potatoes, Aunt L’s sweet potatoes and homemade cranberry sauce (we need her to make cranberry sauce.  I love Aunt L’s homemade cranberry sauce!!!), Grammy’s rutabaga and parsnips, Grandma’s peas and corn and apple pie, and mommy’s pumpkin pie.  I think that all covers it.  And picture it delivered much faster than you just read and with more enthusiasm than you can imagine, and you’re probably close to the live version.  Isaac is excited! about Thanksgiving.  He’s now talking of buying a giant blow-up turkey for our front yard because we don’t have any Thanksgiving decorations.  He’s also started planning for upping our Christmas decorations from last year’s additions.  Think Clark Griswald.  “Christmas Vacation.”  Except his father and I are more the simple all-white little lights and candles in the windows sorts.  If we were actually motivated to decorate at all, that is.  I’m not really sure where this boy came from.

Hannah.  Hannah girlie.  Hannah girlie’s birthday is right around the corner and is she ever excited.  We wrote out her invitations for her friends this morning.  This is her first birthday party with friends invited, not just family.  She was jumping up and down and wiggling with excitement.  Which means, when you do the conversion, if Isaac felt that same level of excitement he would, quite literally, be through the roof and out in space somewhere.  Hannah is giggly and excited and wrote everybody’s names on the envelopes along with a drawing of a stamp and an I ❤ U for every one of her classmates.  She’ll be five.  FIVE!  And if she saw you on the street, she would invite you to her party.  She’s just sweet as can be.  And I need to start making some plans.

Her “best friends” in her class are the kids who are in most need of early intervention and/or special education.  I’m not exactly sure why, she can’t explain what she likes best about them, but knowing Hannah, it just seems to fit.  She sees the people most in need of love and care and attention and she lavishes it.  Of all our kids, we can most easily, very easily, see Hannah following in the family business.  Of course, Lord knows what he’ll really call her to, but she has the kindest, gentlest heart and a passion for caring for people.  She’s precious.  Simply precious.

And Ruth.  Ruthie Ruthie Ruthie.  Ruthie’s big project this last week and a half is starting to use the potty.  I’ll save you the gross details.  Suffice it to say, she’s been so easy about it.  She just decided to do it and now she’s doing it.  It’s thrilling.  It’s the end of an era.  And there isn’t an ounce of bitter in its sweetness.  I’m thinking of opening a special savings account where I can squirrel away the money we’ll be saving on diapers.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I might just know the real reason I’ve been absent from blogland.  Ruth has been two-and-a-half.  And if you’ve ever met a 2 1/2 year old, you know what I mean.  Holy moly, Ruth is doing 2 1/2, like she does everything else:  with GUSTO!  Full bore!!!  Yesssireeebob, I am toddler, hear me roar!!!  Wow.  And I’m getting a little old for this stuff.  Finally, finally she seems to be mellowing out some.  Some.  She’s getting a grasp on taking turns.  She’s gaining a little bit of patience.  She’s developing better language skills and that seems to diffuse some of the intensity.  But at the end of the day, this toddler is positively hysterical.  When she’s not screaming at me, she’s saying and doing some of the funniest things and I find myself laughing at her all day.  What a joy!  What a blessing!

There ya have it.  My three kids and where they’re at and what they’re doing.  Meanwhile, I’m watching them grow and learn and be, and am, in many ways, simply along for the ride.  These years are far too fleeting.  I don’t want to miss a second.

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Filed under Hannah, Isaac, milestones, Ruth

Two very different girls . . .

I think about this a lot.  This parenting thing.  It’s been my primary vocation for 8 years now.  (I start counting with Isaac’s conception, as that was the point at which I began obsessing about the whole parenting enterprise.)

It seems everybody’s got their ideas, their philosophy.  Rules to follow, guidelines to lead you in leading your children toward adulthood.  I tried to qualify that adulthood:  healthy, well-balanced?  productive?  But every little nook and cranny of parenting-lore has its own goal in mind.  There are some Christian circles where the name of the game is obedience:  raise your kid to be obedient to you so that when they are adults they will be obedient to God.  There are some Non-Christian circles whose goal seems to be adults who are capable of finding their own way, their own path.  And everything in between and a zillion hybrids.

There are some things I’ve learned in these eight years of parenting.  Well, 7 1/2 years with a kid I can actually see and touch.  These rules.  These guidelines.  These “Do XYZ for ABC results” applied to kids?  Bunk.  A whole lotta bunk.  Who are we kidding?  Kids did not come down out of a shoot from a factory.  There is not one model.  There is no model.  They are individual people–hear that.  People.  From birth.–with their own particularities and peculiarities.  Just as different one from another as adults are different, one from another.  Why is it that we expect our kids to fit some sort of mold, follow some sort of rule (if X, then A), when we know enough never to expect the grown ups around us to work that way?  When we encounter adults, we know to expect the unexpected, always prepared to respond to what comes next, knowing that what comes next is not always predictable?  Why do we view adults this way, but not kids?

I can’t talk to my mother the same way I talk to my sister.  They have two different languages.  Two different senses of humor.  Yes, they are similar in many ways, but in others they couldn’t be any more different.  And this is one woman raised by another woman, taught about the world by her from her earliest days.

Yet.  Yet we get these first kids and we open up these books to find out what to do to them, with them, for them, to turn them into the people we want them to be.  Then we have these second kids and we apply all those same rules to them and expect the same result.  “If I do R (this Rule), this child will do Y.”  But the thing is, the child (C) in the equation (R + C = Y) is not a constant.  The child is one, unique individual and, therefore, a variable.  A variable of enormous magnitude.  So, how can we expect to consistently get Y, the results we desire in and for our children, when we add the same R to a completely different C?  Are you following me?  I have at least one numbers-oriented friend who might be.

We have to change the game.  Change the equation.  Start with the variable.  Start with the C.  End with the Y, sure.  It’s OK to have a goal in mind for your kid.  I want my kids to grow up knowing the Lord, loving him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and loving their neighbors as themselves.  That’s my goal.  That’s my Y.  So I have a kid, C, who I want to get to equal Y.  Actually, I have three kids, I want to get to equal Y.  Three different equations, one for each variable.  Because each C has a completely different value and measurement and character and you-name-it.  So, I’m left with a general  ( __ + C = Y), but with each child, I have to figure out what goes into that blank.  I have to figure out the Rules, the tools, the means, that need to be added to each different child to get–to the best of my limited abilities–to the results I’m hoping for.

What does this child, Hannah, need?  What does this child, Ruth, need?  What does this child, Isaac, need?  Those are the questions I need to be asking.  If I go to any “rule” books, I need to do so with these questions in mind.  Seeking not rules, but ideas, possibilities.  Things I can try that might work for Ruth, but not for Hannah, things that hit Isaac just right, but send Hannah off the deep end.  Too many of these people selling these books fail to tell you that.  I think these books tell us more about the kids the authors had than it tells us about what we can do for our own kids.  And in some cases, my heart breaks for the kids who came after the author’s firstborn but who likely had the nerve to operate completely differently.

So not where I intended to go.  Shock of shocks.  My real point in writing this, as may be evident from the title, was to share an experience I had last night that demonstrated just how different my two girls are.  My three kids are so very different, one from another.  And maybe that’s why I’m so sensitive to all this.  Maybe not everyone’s kids are as varied as mine.  Mine barely seem that they came from the same planet, I don’t see how they all could have come from the same womb.  I simply cannot treat each one of them with the same set of rules.  I would have broken them long before they came off the assembly line.

So, in keeping with the title, an illustration of just how different are my girls. . . .

Everybody was sick yesterday.  Well, not me, but everyone else.  Fevers and coughing and general flu-like stuff going on.  I’m pretty sure no one’s going to die, but there are buckets of misery being passed around.  Hannah and Ruth each had a fever at dinner last night (in the 104 range), so I gave them each a dose of ibuprophen at 6:30 and sent everyone off to bed (read, 2 1/2 hours later, everyone was asleep).

Around 2AM I hear a distinctly croupy cough and a whimpering “Mommy” coming down the hall.  Hannah and Ruth sound pretty much the same, so I can’t tell who it is until I am greeted by the messy halo of blond and footed-jammies silhouette with the yellow blankie tucked under my toddler’s chin.  Ruthie.  “I want Mommy.”  OK, honey.  I climb out of bed to meet her in the hall, but realize, Boy I really need a trip to the bathroom before I get involved in this.  “Ry, can you keep Ruth while I run to the bathroom?”  “Sure,” says my most beloved, always-willing-to-help-a-kid-or-wife-in-the-middle-of-the-night husband.

I return from the bathroom to find my Ruthie snuggled in bed with her daddy and chitty-chatting away in a chipper voice:  “Dem was WRobots.  Da wittle one was WRushy.  What dem peas doing?  What was Pa Gape doing?  Dem was singin’ ”  And so on.  And on.  And on.  Ruthie had watched a lot of TV on her sick day, and is retelling much of what she saw.  Chipper and happy and ready to go.   Ry and I are laughing, despite the fact that it’s 2 in the morning and we are both desperately tired.  Ruthie’s just so funny.  I feel her forehead, to check on how her fever is doing and she is burning up.  I run downstairs for the thermometer and ibuprophen.  102.3.  Hot enough.  She’s chipper, so perhaps I shouldn’t worry about bringing the temp down, but I want her to be comfortable enough to sleep well, so I drug her up.  I send Ry off to Ruth’s bed while I hunker down with her in ours.  When she lay down, she has some big, wet coughs and she throws up.  After cleaning up, we both start to drift off to sleep.

Next thing I know–and very little time has passed–I hear yet another croupy cough and whimpering.  Hannah.  She whimpers and whines her way up over Ruth, straddles my legs and just whimpers and whines.  I try to tell her I need her to get off my legs so I can go get her daddy to help her–so Ruth can stay asleep–but she won’t move, won’t speak, can only whimper.  I’m trying desperately to quickly get her up and out of my room before she awakens Ruth, but she’s beside herself.  I also know that she’s going to throw up, because she always does when she’s sick like this with excess mucous–she’s always choked and gagged easily–so I’m also trying to get her to get off my bed before she does.  But she can’t do anything but whimper and whine.  She’s just pitiful.  As predicted, she barfs, mostly getting it off the side of the bed to the floor as instructed–though the bed does not go unscathed–and continues to whimper and whine and tremble.  My poor, poor baby.

I carry her off to Ruth’s bed (in the room next door to ours, so as not to disturb Isaac who shares Hannah’s room) while my beloved cleans up the mess and changes our sheets–have I mentioned how wonderful he is?–and Ruth, long since awakened by the hullaballoo, wanders around between both rooms chattering away, chipper and happy, despite her rosy cheeks and glassy eyes.   Hannah huddles into a shivering ball under Ruth’s blankets.  I get the thermometer and ibuprophen.  102.8.  And miserable.  Drug her up good.

I send Ry off to bed with Hannah, so she has someone to snuggle and keep her warm, and again I hunker down with Ruthie who is really ready to go now, chitty chitty chat chat.  And I marvel at the difference between my two girls.  Both with the same symptoms, the same grade fever.  One happy-go-lucky, bubbly, chipper, ball of energy, one shivering, trembling, whimpering, most pitiful creature.  So different.  Neither good nor bad, just different.  And if they can’t even have the same response to the same virus with the same symptoms, how can I expect them to have the same response to anything else?

Wow.  I’ve rambled.  Blame the fact that I haven’t been blogging much lately.  Blame the utter lack of sleep.  Blame the encroaching virus.  But who am I kidding?  It’s my way.  It’s who I am.  It’s one of the ways God made me special.  It’s my own little way of being different.

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Filed under attachment parenting, Hannah, Ruth, sick kid