A Lutheran Says What?

Sermons and random thoughts on God, the world and the intersection of the two

How life has changed November 29, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 11:47 pm
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One of the joys of this week for me has been spending time with my wonderful, smart and adorable nieces. They are ages 5,4, and 20 months so we have been busy and on a schedule. We have to feed them at the same time every day, all day. We have to schedule activities and outings around naps and said eating schedule. We have to allow for melt downs (they don’t very often as they are really good girls but they are little) and for just plain old preschool behavior. After a couple of days of this, I realized how much of this sort of parenting I have forgotten and how much I take for granted the wonderfulness that is having teenagers.

As someone who has a degree in elementary education and early childhood, ran a preschool and LOVED having little children, I honestly was concerned about the teen years as a parent. You see, I was a pretty good mom of little ones: we made our own playdough and ooblik, had a sand and water table, every art supply you could buy, cooking projects, rain walks, weekly trips to the zoo or children’s museum, and the list goes on. But then Kayla turned 13. Now what?

Turned out, all kinds of things. My kids still love art, but now we can take them to art museums and get more sophisticated art projects going. We still cook, only they can do almost all of it and it’s really tasty! We can go for longer walks, we can go to nicer restaurants, we can go to history museums and the kids sometimes know more than Mike and I do! We don’t have as many meltdowns (ours mostly revolve around needing to keep teenagers stomachs full) and a bathroom break no longer involves me. We talk about real literature (now don’t get me wrong, I love a Sandra Boyton book as much as the next person) and have inside jokes about novels such as “The Old Man and the Sea.” We can talk about politics and watch the same tv shows-and I don’t mean Dora or Barney.

Traveling is most definitely where I notice the difference. I no longer worry about two year old Andrew running off and trying to board a plane for London (happened at Sky Harbor in Phoenix pre-9/11, sigh) or making sure that we all sit together. Heck, I checked us in for our Southwest flight this morning and Andrew is even in a different seating group and Mike and I just laughed about how he will have to board after the rest of us. Pretty funny when you think about how he tried to board a plane without us 12 years ago.

I always thought I would miss having really little children because I loved that phase of parenting so much. But I have to admit that I am really loving this phase as well and it has so many perks as compared to having young children. Such as I am writing this blog post at 3:30 in the afternoon and can do so uninterrupted while my brother in law deals with crying preschoolers. Life has definitely changed and I think it’s awesome and wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

Glorious Adult Dialog November 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 2:58 am
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One of the joys of having older children is real conversations. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the baby talk of my toddlers and some of those words have found a permanent place in our family vocabulary. (Andrew called elephants “eppies” and we still do today.) But lets face it, unless you find Dora the Explorer fascinating and think that toileting details are the end all and be all of the day, as an adult you can go a little stir crazy if cooped up with little ones for too long.
As a director and teacher of a preschool for many years I developed coping techniques. You learn to have coded dialog with co-teachers of more adult topics that the children will never have any idea what you are talking about. In a world of “Mary had a little lamb,” positive reinforcement, never being crabby, using only the cleanest of clean language, tea parties and lego buildings, you have to have an outlet before you snap and either start swearing at kids like a sailor or worse yet-becoming as squeaky clean as a “Step-ford wife.” We’ve all met them: the syrupy sweet preschool teachers who say “gosh darn” and love their assortment of child made jewelry that they wear ALL THE TIME. Annoying and in my opinion, extremely scary. I think one of the reasons why the school I led was so successful was that I hired teachers who were real people, who occasionally messed up, as in inadvertently teaching a four year old to say “sucks,” not knowing that Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” was maybe not an appropriate ring tone, had a few personal issues, would never wear homemade jewelry but always loved the children and the parents. Parents could relate to us and we were no different than they were. We were just gluttons for punishment to hang out with little children all day while their moms went to a coffee shop. I know, right?
While I loved being a teacher and a director of a school, it could be particularly maddening when you are preschool teacher all day and then you come home to your own young children. It’s like watching Barney 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some days you can completely understand why some species of animals eat their young. Anything to get to use the bathroom by yourself.
I sometimes miss those days of simpler parenting but the trade off is glorious adult dialog. I picked my daughter up from work two nights ago and as she got into the car, I asked her how her job went. She regaled me with the typical co-worker stories and issues and how she was handling it, how she did something new for the first time, a conversation with her boss (that I thought she handled extremely well for 17) and other quite grown up topics. Now, don’t think that I am one of those parents trying to be my teenagers friend, I am not, but it was nice to converse in a grown up way with her and hear her thoughts and musings. Both of my children now have opinions on politics, religion, the environment, philosophy, literature, military conflicts and popular culture. They also share with me their relationships, inner wrestling, longings and dreams. It feels like quite a privilege to be allowed into these places in their lives and I try and relish every moment and conversation because all too soon these talks will be over a phone and not in my living room every night.

 

Letting Go-kinda November 17, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 4:00 am
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Today my daughter and I stood in line at the post office for an hour and a half to get her passport for the band trip to Italy in the spring. Don’t worry this is not going to be a rant about the inefficiency of the government, although I can MOST certainly go there. (Seriously, line out the door and one person working the desk. Sigh.) But when the woman at the post office told me that Kayla’s passport would be good for 15 years and renewing it would never be my problem. While I understand, intellectually, that my daughter is almost 18, the thought of not doing stuff like this with her felt like the rug being pulled out from underneath me.

Now every parent of a teenager has the fantasy of when their teen will move out and go to college and see that mom and dad might actually know something but when that time has a real date to it, that’s different. She is gone a lot now, with school, work, her boyfriend, band, etc. Yet, she is home every night and I see her every day. Soon that will not be the case and that causes me to catch my breath.

How can it be that this tiny little baby who was failure to thrive, cried all the time and was a late walker, is ready to be on her own? How can it be that I am no longer that young mom? (Again, seriously another blog.) What will it be for her to have her own space, her own life and for me to come visit?

She is intelligent, caring, compassionate, creative and ready to go. I trust that she will make the best decisions that she can and knows that her dad and I are always here. I trust the parenting we have done so far (I don’t think you ever finish) and I trust that God is with her as she learns to navigate this next chapter of her life. But I don’t always trust the world I am sending her into. I watched the news last night and saw that one of the colleges she has applied to seems to have someone on the loose giving young women the date rape drug. I decided on the spot she will live at home forever. I will likely lie in bed and wonder if she is safe in her dorm room each night. I am reassured that we have unlimited texting and I will just have her text me her every move. Every 18 year old loves that about their mom, right?

This simple act of getting a piece of paper from the government stirred up in me the reality of letting go, loving without smothering and knowing that I will suck at it. All I can do is pray daily for both of my children and the world that we live in. I pray that everyone’s sons and daughters are safe, healthy and happy while knowing that is not the case. I can pray. And install the tracker app in their phones.