Monday, October 19, 2009

What a Dilemma!

A couple mornings ago, my seven-year-old greeted me in the kitchen with an exasperated declaration. "Guess what, Mom? I can't play football at recess anymore!"

This sounded serious. "Why?" I asked with concern.

"Because. Everyone wants me on their team!" It wasn't exactly the problem I was expecting.

"And that's a problem?" I asked, a little perplexed.

"Yes. All my friends fight over who gets to have me on their team. I'm always chosen first, and I never even get to be on my best friend's team."

Trying to approach his problem with the seriousness he was expecting, I said, "Wow, most children complain when they are always chosen last for teams. I never realized what a problem it is to always be chosen first." Okay, so I was being a little facetious, but he didn't seem to catch on. He was dead serious about his dilemma.

Being the problem-solver he is, he quickly came up with a solution. "I need a paper and scissors," he announced. I couldn't imagine how paper and scissors would help him with his recess problem, but I found him the needed items anyway. With breakfast to finish preparing and kids to push out the door, I forgot about our conversation until a couple hours later when I found the project he had been working on. One side of a paper had a schedule of teams for the week, from Monday to Friday (see below--note the spelling--I love it! I especially love how he spelled Austin--Oston); the other side of the paper held a serious threat (I think he meant to say "strict" instead of "striked").

I couldn't help but giggle, but my humor soon turned to concern over the obvious fact that he had left the paper at home. I was sure he would be upset when he realized he had gone to school without it, and as crazy as it sounds, I even considered running to the school to give it to him before first recess (I've noticed motherhood often produces temporary insanity). I decided that idea was ridiculous, but as the day wore on I couldn't help but think about my son and his predicament. I kept picturing in my mind the scenario when he announced his plan to his friends, and I wondered if they would be as sure about it as he was. I anxiously awaited his arrival home, nervous about how the day had gone.Finally, he stepped in the door.

"How did it go at recess today, son?" I asked immediately.

"Fine." I hate that reply. It basically means I don't have the energy to tell you any details.

I told him I had worried all day because he had forgotten his schedule. "Oh, that's okay. I had Friday memorized," he assured me. I should have known an assertive child such as he would have it all under control.

Next, I asked him if he thought the schedule really helped.

With frustration and complete earnestness, he replied, "No, not really, because my friends still whined and complained. I tried to explain to them that they all had to take turns having me on their team and that next week I would be on their team for a whole day of recesses if they would just be patient, but no, they complained." (I'm sure it sounds like my son is a bragger, but the funniest part of this whole scenario is that he didn't even realize how crazy his dilemma sounded. He was not boasting, just simply expressing frustration at a problem that was very real and very serious to him.) The whole thing tickled me to no end.

"Wow, this really seems to be a problem," I said, hoping to prolong the conversation.

"Yea, it is. My one friend kept saying, 'it's not fair.' I should have told him, 'fair is where the pigs go.'"

Okay, I admit a giggle slipped out at this comment. I don't know where he got that from.

"I guess I'm just gonna have to quit playing football at recess. I already quit playing soccer earlier in the year because I was having the same problem. Now I'm going to have to quit playing football, too." His disgust hung heavily in the air.

I couldn't help but tease just a little. "Maybe you'll have to start cheer leading at recess instead since other sports just aren't working out for you."

Nate caught right on, and without missing a beat explained, "No, Mom, that won't work either. Then my friends would come up with the idea of having a cheer leading competition and they'd all want me on their team again. Plus," he added, "then I'd have to take pom poms to school."

At this, I laughed out loud. This kid was even more clever than I thought. We never officially solved his recess problem, but I sure enjoyed trying.

And for those of you who think it's horrible to always be chosen last, keep in mind it could be worse--apparently, being chosen first all the time is an even bigger problem!

Monday, October 12, 2009

An Educational Experience

I've spent quite a bit of time lately flat on my back staring at the three inches of dust on my ceiling fan, the piles of clutter on the dressers and night stand, and the unevenly hung window treatments in my bedroom. I've even noticed the builders used two different types of trim around the door leading to my bathroom, leaving an unmatched corner. Yes, since last Friday when I endured a spinal tap, leaving me plagued with spinal headaches, I've had the opportunity of lying in my bed, listening to life happening all around me, and it's been a very interesting experience.

Not only am I now acutely aware of how filthy my master bedroom has become, but I've also had the opportunity to be a bystander, or outside listener, to what Conger family life really sounds like--a scary experience, let me just say. But I have to admit, it's been quite enjoyable at the same time, as I've listened to my children try to solve their own problems, fix their own meals, get their own snacks, and help each other do the stuff I usually do. Add a husband to that mix and it's been downright entertaining at times. All I can say is I do a lot more around here than I even realized, and if you don't believe me, just ask my poor kids. They've had to do everything from laundry to brushing teeth and putting the younger kids to bed. My seven-year-old was in charge of breakfast this morning (my husband had to leave at 5:30 a.m. for a business trip today--what timing) and I had to chuckle at how seriously he took his job. He swept the floor, wiped down all the counters and lined all eight opened cereal boxes on the snack bar with bowls, spoons and milk. He even put the dirty dishes in the sink, and miracle of miracles, remembered to put the milk away before he left for school.

My nine-year-old was in charge of showering the two younger children, and I've learned if you ever want to know if you really have an influence on your children, simply give them a task you normally do regarding other children, then listen to how they handle it. It was like I was listening to a recording of myself as Hallee worked with Regyn and Boston to get them to cooperate and get washed and out of the shower. Wow, I thought. I really am constantly influencing my children, even when I'm simply doing the same old mundane tasks. Although that realization always scares me a little bit since I'm far from the perfect example, deep inside, I am so grateful. Who better than a mother to leave lasting impressions and teach valuable skills?

So, although I hope to be back up and at it soon, in the mean time I think I'll take copious notes on the things I need to improve on as I listen to my children take on my role. And for those of you who wonder if your children ever listen to you, trust me, they watch and listen more closely than you could imagine. If you don't believe me, just take a few days off, lie flat on your back in bed (hopefully you won't have dust and clutter to stare at like I do), and listen. It's sure to be an educational experience!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Weekend Away

Seeing how our anniversary a few weeks ago was a huge bust (I had a major migraine and the doctor gave me a shot that put me completely out--went to bed at 2:30 the afternoon of our anniversary and didn't wake up until 7:00 the next morning--"Happy Anniversary, honey, but I've got a headache!"), my sweet, patient husband and I decided to spend some time away alone together this past weekend. I looked forward to the vacation with eager anticipation. As I loaded our bags in the van I felt literally giddy at the thoughts of experiencing uninterrupted conversation.

As usual, due to my husband trying to squeeze something in, we left about two hours later than we had planned, cutting in to our time together before we even left town. When we were finally on the interstate heading away from home, I took a deep breath and began to soak up the peaceful lull of traffic when my husband sheepishly admitted he hoped to stop "quickly" by a fireplace store on our way. Making every effort not to roll my eyes, I agreed and we exited. An hour later, we opened the van to load our purchase and found our son's football gear he needed for practice in two hours. My patience was wearing thin, but nonetheless we had no choice but turn around and head back home. So, nearly five hours later than we originally hoped to take off, we were finally on our way.

Paradise, here we come! . . . Or a stop for my husband to run another "quick" errand. We managed to eat and make it to our destination by bedtime.

The good news is, I was determined to remain cool, calm and collected the entire trip; in fact, I informed my husband that since he was such a good sport about our anniversary, this trip was going to be all about him. Yes, my demands were going to take a back seat to his every wish and desire. He was to choose where we ate, what we did, what movie we attended, and so on. Who could ask for more?

The only problem was, old habits are hard to break. Not only could I not stop being a bossy, demanding backseat driver who manipulated my husband into choosing everything I wanted, but he couldn't make a decision for himself even when I did bite my tongue long enough to hear his opinion. We shared the milkshake of my choice, saw a chick flick, and even ate at two different eating establishments one night because he knew I didn't care for Domino's pizza and he was dying to have one since they advertized a $6 large pizza. I assured him over and over that I was happy to eat the pizza, but I guess after 11 years of marriage, he knows me better than that, so I ended up getting take-out Chinese while he enjoyed his pepperoni pizza, and we were both happy.

Driving home we reviewed our time away and couldn't help but chuckle. We had both thoroughly enjoyed our little get-away, but it had become obvious some things will never change. I'll never stop getting my way, and he'll never stop giving it to me.

Oh well, I'm thinking life could be a lot worse than that!