Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Already Paid My Dues

       As I prefaced in my last post, this too is a fictional story about my wonderful children.  This is LOOSELY based on them, but you know I love to exaggerate- except for the part about my son's scores on XBOX Live.  This could be a peek into ANYONE'S household with kids. 

I Already Paid My Dues
Our school requires summer reading, but in my house Dante and Edgar Allen Poe are no match for Donkey Kong and Nintendo.  If I step on one more game controller, I will take steps to recycle my kids’ “Dance Revolution” DVD into a wind chime.

As proud as I am that my kids’ scores on XBOX Live are in the 90th percentile in the country, my techno-teens are a little too consumed with anything on a screen.  Instead of mowing down zombies, they need to be mowing some bermuda.  My husband and I called a family meeting.
“Until further notice, our family is unplugged,” I declared to three stunned teenagers. “Household chores will be assigned, and ignoring your duties will result in my ignoring to pay your cell phone bill.”
“Why do you treat us like slaves?” my daughter texted me later that day as she dusted in the next room.
“Because that’s why we had you in the first place,” I typed back, like any good parent.
Last summer we sentenced my son to cutting and edging the yard.  He immediately brought to my attention that he was melting in the heat while I folded laundry.  I patiently smiled and held up a picture of he and his sisters, ages 5, 3, and 1 at Disney World one July, smiling at the entrance of the Log Ride. 
“See the joy in your little red faces?  That’s before we stood in line an hour for the Log Ride and discovered none of you could ride because you were shorter than Mickey Mouse’s red ruler.  Dad and I had little red faces too because we were dragging a double stroller and a 20 lb. diaper bag through Disney World so you guys could meet Shrek, and it was 10 degrees hotter than Hades.  Now go finish mowing.  You missed a spot by the driveway.”
My daughter wondered why it was her job to walk the dog in all kinds of weather while I sat inside doing paperwork.  I guided her to our keepsake box and pulled out the tiny ballerina costume she wore on her first Halloween. 
“Sweetums, on Halloween who do you think walked you to every house within range of a tornado siren to fill up your pumpkin pails?  Every year I dressed as Cruella de Ville for three school parties and scoured every store for the fake, bloody foot or go-go boots you insisted on.  And every October I chased the dog around the yard to give him a bath because you sprayed him orange.” 
Handing her the leash, I added, “By the way, Cruella de Ville sort of seeped into my psyche through the years, so you just might want to keep that dog away from me.”
My youngest daughter, whose job was to blow leaves from the yard, complained that it was too windy.
Marshaling the swirling leaves would have indeed been futile, so we rested and I told her about winds from a vicious storm 11 years ago.  I showed her a picture of her at age 2 standing on an uprooted tree in our yard, bent almost to the ground by a tornado.  When she was a toddler, I roused her from a deep sleep due to the tornado warnings.  Her drowsy eyes questioned why I pulled her out of a warm bed to cower in a closet.  When the windows popped from the air pressure, she began to cry.  My heart ached as I held my face against her wet cheeks.  
I’ve always tried to ease her fears, but I won’t be able to protect her forever.  
The best I can do is teach her to face her fears with confidence and rise above them. In the picture she stood on the uprooted tree as if she, rather than the treacherous wind, was the one who conquered it.  When she leaves us, I want her to believe she can conquer the world.  She’ll pay her dues and grow with every goal she accomplishes.  
But that afternoon she needed to pay her dues and accomplish the blowing.
The chores were done, and at bedtime I turned off the lights and stumbled, cutting my toe on a game controller.   It was time to put my mangled foot down.  
The next morning the kids finished their jobs and raced inside to play video games, but they couldn’t find their favorite “Dance Revolution” game. 
Meanwhile, I peacefully eased myself into a chair on the back porch.  The birds’ singing was especially sweet and the breeze was fresher than usual.  My wind chime seemed to jingle with more liveliness too.  Maybe it was because of the new ornament swinging in the center that added just the right touch—a shiny silver DVD. 

Friday, August 12, 2011


Hi all -

I wanted to share this beautiful song from a Christian band called "Shane and Shane."  It's a song to daughters called "The One You Need."  Very touching if you have a daughter of any age.

Children who have gone astray can break your heart.  So can  divorce.  So can being married to a narcissist.  Jesus came for the broken, and I write a blog for the broken called "Messages From God For the Brokenhearted."  

Also there's a great song by a band called "Ashes Remain".  It's called "Everything Good."  Make sure and listen to the story behind the song.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kodak Moments

I want to preface this post by saying this story is LOOSELY based on my children because they are constantly doing jobs around the house.  They usually do them without griping, and they are not ungrateful slackers.  They are very appreciative, and they work hard.  I just thought it would be fun to write a humorous spin on every parent's fantasy—children doing chores.

Kodak Moments
I harbor irrational fantasies that my kids will remember to do the chores I ask of them.  I know I’m a bit unrealistic—like on the first day of family vacation at the beach when I have expectations of a trip filled with idyllic, joyous togetherness.  
Truthfully, I shouldn’t expect my teenagers to recall much.  The nerve synapses of their brains aren’t fully connected yet.  I’m sure my twelfth-grader has a form of amnesia similar to elderly dementia.  Only two groups of people would enter their bedroom carrying a stack of folded laundry and forget what to do with it—and they’re both Seniors.
The other day I tousled my son’s hair, gave the girls a friendly wink, and gently suggested to my kids that they put away their clean clothes, thinking they would get right to it.  My optimism soared like an airplane flying over the beach advertising 2-for1 drinks at Bubba Gump’s.
“This show’s got five more minutes, Mom!” they replied to my benign request.
Thirty minutes later it was “Hang on, Mom, I’ve just got one more song to download.”  
My hands clenched with a prickly edginess typical of the fourth day of family bonding at the seashore.  That’s when I usually find the girls’ wet swimsuits on the floor of our rented condo and realize that the neon colors have faded permanently on carpet that belongs to someone else. 
Finally I ordered them to put away their clothes before bed and they pretended to be asleep.  Like the last day of a family trip, I threw all remnants of my absurd enthusiasm to the sharks.  The tide was going to turn.
The next morning after church I stomped up the stairs, my fingernails digging into the leather Bible I was still clutching.  I was like one of those exasperated moms who has ridden water slides all day with her kid and who screams at a ten-year-old stranger for breaking in line in front of her at the Big Kahuna in Florida.  Not that I’ve ever done that.  
I was ready to blow, and being a born-and-bred Southerner, I was fixin’ to go get a gun off the rifle rack in my 4 x 4 and just see what my kids would do.  Even Jesus threw the thieves out of the temple so I bet you He’s on my side.  My eyes blazing, I let the threats fly. 
“I am so sick of being the only one in this house who does anything!  You people have it too easy and things are going to change around here!”  I lowered my voice, hissing for effect, “That computer’s mine, and it is SO gone!”    
Gaining more momentum, I stomped through the girls’ rooms.  “As a matter of fact, my baseboards are filthy and so is the inside of my car from the Cheeto balls and sunflower seeds,” I ranted.  “You need to figure out how to work that vacuum cleaner because it’s gonna be your best friend!” 
Striding out of the bathroom and making a mental note of the moldy grout between the floor tiles, I spun around right outside the door.  I pointed my finger.  “And you better put a smile on your face when you do it because I’m videoing it all and putting it on Youtube.”  
Obviously traumatized, the girls gaped at me.  “Mom!  Why are you yelling??  Why do you yell ALL the time?!”  
I glared at them from right outside their bathroom, and they gently shut the door on me, signaling they were finished with the conversation.  A life-size Justin Beiber, taped to the other side of their door, stared at me, his swinging bangs and grin mocking my outrage.  Seething, I channeled the spirit of Dr. Phil who suggested I impose a consequence for their defiance so heinous it would shake the gates of Hell. I grabbed the perfect poison from the cleaning closet and marched back to their bathroom.  
The girls thought I had left for good so they plopped on the bathroom floor and began painting their nails.  When I opened the bathroom door, they jumped, spilling “Surfin’ with Sandy Cheeks” nail polish on the tile which spread all over the black, moldy grout.  
Annoyed that I was back to nag, they rolled their eyes and asked in their sweetest, sarcastic voices, “What can we do for you Mom??” 
I looked down at the grout, took a deep breath, and handed them Dr. Phil’s remedy—toothbrushes and bleach. 
Their reaction was a Kodak moment.
The next day my friend, Susan, called who only has one child and thankfully has the time to stalk all my kids on Facebook.  
“Your profile picture is a little different today on Facebook, hon,” she said.  “Looks like someone who has some sort of anger issues against you hacked into your account.”   
With trepidation, I typed in my password.  Surely, it wasn’t the girls who hacked into my Facebook, I thought.  But then again, they set it up for me in the first place.  That’s why the password is BUTTHEAD.
There, right beside my name, was a picture of me taken last year on the final day of our family vacation—a wide-angle picture of my dimply derriere in a swimsuit at the beach.  The caption underneath read, “Surfin‘ with Sandy Cheeks.”