Scenes of Motherhood

Annoyed
We are sitting at Cracker Barrel deciding what to order.  I decide on a dinner instead of pancakes because I want to eat some of the yummy biscuits that come with the dinner.  Elena wants mac & cheese, and a grilled cheese sandwich, but I say “No, Elena, you can’t have both, it’s too much cheese.
The food comes, and the biscuits are set down and before I can say anything, the children yes, All Three Of Them grab the three biscuits and leave me with the dry corn muffin.
And I am annoyed.  And I am even more annoyed that this annoys me.   I am reminded of that story about the mom who never got a piece of pie, and she was an awesome mom, so I need to do that too.
So I choke down my corn muffin while the children stuff their mouths with my biscuits, and crumbs fall on the table and I look at the crumbs longingly but decide it’s too desperate to eat them.  So I tough up and forget about it.  Then Elena gloats because our server made a mistake and brought her a grilled cheese sandwich and mac & cheese.  I guess it’s her lucky day.

 

 Fallible
We have some wild cats at our place, and one day Brandt leaves the door open, and a wild kitty streaks into the house.  It hides immediately and we can’t find it all day long.  The children are sure that it’s going to starve to death while in hiding, but we assure them “No no, it won’t die”.  At 3:00 AM the kitty starts mewing. 
Gene & I are out of bed chasing this thing all around the house, trying to get him out the door.  We cornered him close to the open door.   Gene moves a heavy trunk; the kitty changes direction while Gene is moving the trunk, and what do you know?  The trunk gets the kitty right in the neck and he clunks over dead.
So the next morning we’re like: “Children, can we talk about that kitty?  Yes well, um, Daddy didn’t do it on purpose, but yes the kitty is dead”.
And tears and crying and sniffles that follow when the children realize that there is a cat-killer in the house, and it is their father.

Entitlement
This summer my kids are on a snacking binge that is driving me crazy.  It seems that they are constantly hungry and asking for cereal, cheese sticks, bagels, and granola bars.  It certainly isn’t their fault if they are, in fact hungry.  So why does it bother me so much?  It bothers me significantly when they ask for a snack, so I sometimes chant this scripture to myself:  “What father if his son asks for bread would he give him a stone?” 
Because yes, I feel like giving them gravel sometimes.
 I wasn’t sure why it was such a big deal for me until I went to bed tonight, and ended up thinking about the famine crisis in Africa, and it clicked in my head.  It’s not about the food or that they are eating too much.  It’s about their attitude of entitlement and complete lack of composure if I deny them a snack.  They cry and beg like they will die. 
So it really is my own issue, about being a torn rich person who can fill up sippy cups with milk all day long, while there are children dying of starvation in the Horn of Africa.
And I want to declare “famine day” in our household where we will not eat at all but instead pray for the children in Africa, but I know that would do nothing but make my family irreparably grouchy with me.   I would cave by noon time, and we would spend the rest of the day munching Cheetos.
What I really want is for my children to snuggle up to me and say:  “Oh Mama, I appreciate how hard you work to give us good food. Thank you for drizzling honey on my Cheerios perfectly every morning.  I will always smack my lips with delight at your delicious suppertime meals.  And now I am going to donate all that money I saved to buy that pony to World Vision.” 
Is that too much to ask for?

Kids and information

Here’s a question for you.  As a mother of a preschooler, and a tragedy strikes (i.e. Haiti ) do you:

  1. Not mention the catastrophe for obvious reasons.
  2. Try to explain what happened in an age-appropriate manner.
  3. Let them watch and see for themselves.

Back when I knew it all, or didn’t have children, I thought the sooner a child understands that the world is unfair the better.

Since then I have been blessed with two ultra-sensitive children.  Swiper, from Dora the Explorer, sends them shrieking from the room and shaking in terror. (On certain episodes only, strangely enough)  Most evenings they beg for us to lay with them in bed because their room is so scary.  (FYI – Gene always does cause he’s a giant teddy bear)

Naturally, I did not mention the earthquakes in Haiti to my kids.  Until….last night at snack time Elena threw a fit because I cut her bagel in half. I was mad, because somehow I produced a spoiled brat, who dared whine about the slicing of foodstuff.

            “Mom! I wanted a whole bagel. I’m not even gonna eat it because you cut it.  Why did you cut it mom? I wanted a bigger bagel.”

It was not cute whining either; it was a screeching, yelling kind of whining.  Then, I let her have it with both barrels.

            “Elena there are children far away, whose houses fell down and they do not have water!  They do not have food! They do not have houses anymore.  And I never, ever, EVER want to hear you whine about bagels again!”

  I ended my tirade by sticking my finger in her nose and shaking it vigorously.  And then we had water works.  She meekly ate her bagel while she cried, and I tried to salvage what was left of our evening.

           

            “Why did their houses fall down, Mom?” Will our house fall down? Mom, you shouldn’t have told me about that, now I will just cry and cry.”

I managed to leave her feeling a little secure. (Pa doesn’t have a history of earthquakes that I know of –whew) We had a simplistic little talk about how God is with us when bad things happen, and He will help us somehow.

According to a book I read recently (referenced below) the human psych was not created to handle knowledge about all the suffering going on in the world.  Thanks to technology, we now have all that information at our fingertips constantly.  Information that previously was held back for those more mature is now blasted to our children.  The day of naivety in childhood seems to be gone.  I mourn that loss.

So on the tight rope, trying to balance between isolation and over-exposure, how do we raise kids in this information age?  I want to get it right, but it’s a tall order because it seems we’re in the first generation to have this specific problem.  I bet there’s an answer to my question somewhere on the web.