Monday, December 28, 2009

Princesses, Tutu's, and Pink Nail Polish--How Far Do We Let This Go?

My three-year-old aspires to be a princess some day. This same child begs me to wear a skirt or princess dress every day, no matter what we are doing or where we are going. This child wants only one thing for Christmas--a microphone--to be able to sing with Hannah Montana and Taylor Swift, and when asked to cut out some pictures for preschool of appreciated items, this child chose bubble gum and pink, fluffy tutu's. When I pull out fingernail polish or make-up, especially lip stick, this child begs me for it incessantly.

I'm sure this all sounds perfectly normal for those of you who have raised little girls who are enamored with "girl stuff" and princesses, but to be perfectly honest, I'm starting to get a little concerned. I mean, it's not that I have anything against being a little fanatical about princesses; it's just that my three-year-old is . . .

. . . a boy!

It all seemed kinda cute at first. Whenever we would ask him his favorite color, he'd say "pink." Whenever his older sister played dress-up, he would participate. Whenever we'd paint our toenails, his would appear, and we figured since no one really saw them, what's the big deal? When he became addicted to watching Hannah Montana, I thought it was an interesting movie choice for a little boy, but hey, boys are rock stars, too, right? But now that he insists on wearing a fluffy skirt every day and gets upset when I tell him boys aren't princesses, it's starting to concern me just a little. I mean, how far should we let this go?

Finally, the other day when he was talking about his new wardrobe, I felt a need to intervene. "Son," I started.

"My name isn't 'Son,'" he corrected me with a little giggle.

Oh boy, we weren't off to a great start. I persisted anyway. "Boys grow up to be princes, not princesses."

His eyebrows puckered as he looked up at me as if to say, "What's a prince anyway?".

Not wanting to crush his wonderfully innocent idea of the world in one fatal blow, I proceeded carefully. "Only girls grow up to be princesses. You're a boy. In fact, you're a strong, handsome little boy."

My husband, eaves dropping on our little conversation, intervened at this point. "Oh forget it, Lori."

I looked back at him with wide eyes, as if to encourage support. I noticed an awful, dreadful fear in my heart at this point, and I began to wonder at what point we should stop this nonsense and put away anything to do with princesses.

Our little guy, who was still thinking over my comment about princes, now asked, "Only Cinderella is a princess?"

"Exactly!" I said.

"And Snow White?"

"Yes, yes, and Snow White."

At this, he thought about it all for a moment, and just when I was getting my hopes up that he was actually beginning to understand the concept, he said, "Well, when I get bigger and turn into a princess, then can I wear a dress?"

Okay, so he wasn't catching on.

What to do now. It's obvious a frank discussion is not the answer. So, at this point, i'm reverting to "Plan B." We've "lost" Hannah Montana, and the dress-up clothes have somehow disappeared as well. I told my older son to please start spending more time with this little guy, and I encouraged our four-year-old daughter to please spend less time with him. I can't say I think it will solve our little issue in a hurry, but a mom has to start somewhere!

Wish me luck!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our Testimony of Christ

Family Home Evening the other night found us without our two littlest family members; hence, we were actually able to have a somewhat focused discussion with out two older children. In an effort to reinforce the true meaning of Christmas and share our own testimonies of Christ, my husband and I began a discussion on this important topic. We asked our children to tell us what they knew about Jesus Christ--it could be anything about Him, His life, His mission--anything. Taking turns, we went around the room, each of us saying something about Christ. Our discussion started off a little slow, but before long, I found I couldn't write fast enough. In a few short minutes, we came up with this list.

He died for us.

He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.

He was resurrected and He lives.

He suffered for all our sins.

He loved little children.

He created the world.

He was a peacemaker.

He performed miracles.

He healed the sick.

He instituted the sacrament.

He walked away from none.

He was happy.

He forgave, even those who hurt him.

He visited Joseph Smith.

He is kind.

He can help you when you need help--no matter what.

He organized His church.

He answers our prayers.

He was baptized.

He was born in Bethlehem.

He takes away our sin.

He is the Son of God.

He was born in a manger.

He is our brother.

He is the only way back to Heavenly Father.

He visited people in America.

He knows us.

He will come again.

He can make our weaknesses become strengths.

He changed our lives.

He showed us the way.

He was willing to be our Savior and fulfill Heavenly Father's plan.

He is perfect.

He was obedient.

He blesses us.

He is our Savior and Redeemer.

He is the Light of the World.

He is the Lamb of God.

This simple list, identified by a 10-year-old, a 7-year-old, and my husband and I, only touches the surface of who Jesus Christ is and what He did for mankind. But at this special time of year, we add our testimony that He truly is the reason for this wonderful season. As we sat quietly in our living room and talked of Christ, the spirit filled our home and hearts, reminding us of the immense love created by a newborn babe in a manger years ago. And as a mother, I am eternally grateful for His life, His example, and His sacrifice--not only for me and my mistakes, but especially for my children's.

So, at this special time of year, we add our testimony of the Savior of the world and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Night Away From the Kids

Having four children, it's not often I get a night away with only my husband, but two nights ago we were presented with the perfect opportunity. It might not be what most people would consider ideal, but hey, you take what you can get. I was in the new IHC hospital in Salt Lake, awaiting a procedure on my heart to repair an ASD (or hole in my heart). Dan's parents were home with our children, and so we found ourselves completely alone (not counting medical personnel, of course) for 27 hours.

I have found these rare "alone times" to often be quite entertaining as we get reacquainted and discuss matters we don't often get to in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I am often reminded of just how funny, cute and wonderful my husband is, and I usually end the experience thinking I sure married well and promising myself I won't allow my role as mother to get in the way of my role as wife, which can often be the case. This time away was no exception. I found myself laughing out loud many times as my husband and I anxiously (nervous anxious, not excited anxious) waited for me to be wheeled into surgery. The hospital had asked me to arrive at 9:00 a.m., explaining the surgery would probably take place around 10:00 a.m. They were a little off in their calculations, and it was nearly 1:00 p.m. before I got wheeled away, leaving three hours to basically kill time and try not to think about the impending procedure.

It all started perfectly normal, but after a while, I think we were both a little bored and anxious, so the silliness began. In the corner of my room was an apparatus that looked an awful lot like a toilet, with a flusher handle and everything. Above it hung a sign that said, "This is NOT a toilet. It is equipment to flush medical waste (or something like that) only. Restrooms are in the hallway if you need one." Upon noticing the sign, we both kinda laughed. Then my husband came up with a funny idea.

"Should I stand here in front of this thing so it looks like I'm using it the next time the nurse walks in?"

He stood in front of it, and I had to laugh. Due to a short wall right next to the thing, it looked like he was really using it. I agreed it would be a funny trick.

Then the idea grew. "I think I'll take this sign down first and hide it. Then I'll act like I've just finished going, and when they ask me if I saw the sign, I'll pretend like I have no idea what they're talking about. They'll point to it and notice it's gone, and I'll just look at them like what I did was perfectly normal." My husband's eyes were twinkling with delight.

I was chuckling harder than I had in a while at this point, imagining the look on the nurse's face. "We can tell them they've been punked," I said.

Just then a nurse came in and handed me one of those dreaded cups. I regrettably told him I had just used the bathroom, so he set it down and told me to get a urine sample whenever I could. After another hour of waiting for surgery, I began to wonder if the hold up was the fact that I hadn't provided the urine sample yet.

"I wish they had told me they would need a urine sample before I used the bathroom," I said. "I wonder if this is the hold-up, and I just don't need to go yet."

"I know," my husband said with the same mischievous grin, "Why don't I go for you? Then I'll hand the nurse the cup and say, 'I wanted to do something to help, so I just peed in this cup for Lori. I hope that's okay.'"

At this idea, I was laughing hysterically, thinking we sure could shake things up a bit around here with our brilliant ideas. Man, my husband is a funny guy, I found myself realizing again. I had kind of forgotten what a great sense of humor he had. Some nurses finally arrived to wheel me away for my procedure (which was amazing, by the way--I was totally awake while doctors went up through a vein in my leg to patch a hole in my heart--I saw the whole thing on the screen, the part I dared open my eyes for anyway), and I found myself being grateful for the one-0n-one time with my husband. He certainly made the experience less scary and more fun, especially since he stayed the night with me and everything.

So, the moral of this story is, if you need some time away, schedule a surgery that requires an overnight stay in the hospital. JK! Actually, the real moral is to take advantage of any situation you find yourself in, even if it's not an ideal stay at a fancy hotel, to get a break from your job as mother and just enjoy your spouse for a while. It could be the most fun you've had in a long time!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Lie, A Cuss Word, and A Prayer

Have you ever looked at your preschooler and wondered where you went wrong? I mean, it seems pretty hard to mess up a child in only four short years, right? I've always hoped to at least wait until my children hit adolescence before feeling like I've blown it, but apparently I'm not going to make it that long.

A couple weeks ago my sweet little four-year-old bounded into the van after an afternoon of preschool, oogling over her treat from the "prize box." I glanced at the gift in her possession and had to admit it was a lot more spectacular than her usual small prizes, and I questioned her about it.

"Wow, that's quite the prize. Why haven't you chosen a big prize like that before?"

"Well, today I got my kindergarten shots at preschool, so I got to choose out of a different prize box."

"What? What do you mean you got your shots at preschool? Who gave them to you?" She had my full attention now. I was pretty sure I didn't remember getting any paper asking my permission to administer shots at preschool.

"Miss Ashley gave them to me," she said matter-of-factly.

"Did the whole class get a shot?" I was starting to panic just a little.

"No. Just me. I was the only one brave enough," she answered as she tore into her prize.

"Well, where did you get a shot?" I tested her.

"Right here in my leg," she said, pointing to her thigh.

"Pull down your pants and let me see," I insisted as I pulled into the garage. This story was sounding more believable all the time.

"No," she giggled, but I insisted and wriggled her pants down around her ankles. Sure enough, there was a little red spot on her thigh, right where she had pointed. Unsure if the spot was really from a needle, I probed further.

"Why don't you have a band aid?"

"Oh, well, it wasn't bleeding very badly, so they just wiped it off with a tissue and told me I'd be fine." And with that, she pulled up her pants and hopped out of the van, leaving me to wonder how I missed the note home about kindergarten shots.

That night as I rehearsed the story to my husband, he instructed me to call the preschool teacher and find out exactly what happened. A bit sheepishly, I made the call. I couldn't imagine the story was true, but then again, my child hadn't skipped a beat in answering all my questions with very believable answers.

I felt even more sheepish a few minutes later when I hung up the phone. Apparently, my daughter had fed the preschool teacher just as big a lie earlier that day so she could choose a big prize from the prize box. She had told her teacher that I had taken her in for shots earlier that day, that her little brother had cried, but she didn't because she was so brave. A series of believable answers to her teacher's questions and a sweet little smile, and she went away with her longed-for prize.

Ugh! I couldn't believe it! I mean, it takes talent to lie that well. She fooled two intelligent adults, answering our interrogations with the ease and confidence of a skilled professional. Great, I thought, I'm raising a pathological liar.

Not two weeks went by and I was called downstairs by my husband, who proceeded to tell me that this same dear child had just said a swear word. Apparently my husband had questioned her over and over about whether she had made a mess at the neighbor's house. She kept telling him "no," but as is his nature, he kept teasing her about it. Finally, to make her point, she said, "He_ _, no!"

Now, I realize in the realm of inappropriate words a child could say, that one may not rank as one of the worst, but this child is only four, and add this little act to her previous offense, and I realized in a hurry I was on the road to raising a juvenile delinquent.

"I just can't trust her anymore," my ten-year-old said in exasperation, throwing her arms in the air. I had to admit, I was feeling the same way. Where had my sweet little angel disappeared to?

Then today, only a few days later, this same child was called on to say family prayer. She offered the familiar thanks for our blessings, asked the Lord to bless a man in our neighborhood who has been sick for a long time, and then in her sweetest voice, she said, "And please bless Mommy that she won't have to have any more surgeries." (I just had my third surgery of the year--this time on my sinuses--and I think my kids are ready for their mom to be back in full swing).

I looked up from bowing my head just in time to catch her sparkling blue eyes look into mine in a knowing way as a humble, sweet grin spread across her little preschool face, and I realized that, juvenile delinquent or not, I love that child more than anything! It wasn't that I had forgotten her past grievances, just that, in the big scheme of things, she was still mine, still wonderful, and I still couldn't imagine life without her.

I think that's the miracle of a family's love for each other. No one knows our weakness better than each other, but at the end of the day, we're still all on the same team and we'd do anything for each other.

So, although I still have nightmares about my four-year-old and what she'll be like as a teenager, I guess for now I'll just be glad her offenses weren't anything too serious. I'm sure in only a few short years, when she's lying about things like boys and curfew, when her knowledge of cuss words extends far past the one she knows right now, and when she's praying her mother will have another surgery so she'll leave her alone for a while, I'll look back on these days and simply smile.

At least for now, I can still take her in my arms, kiss her until she laughs, and give her a lecture she might actually listen to!