Love and Logic

I’ve often heard the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”  I always took it in a humorous light and told my family it was their job to keep me happy or I would make their lives miserable.  Keep the mom happy and all will be well, peaceful, and joyful! 

Yesterday I heard a woman whom I admire state that she sees truth in the statement–but has turned it around as something she is responsible to do.  She has made a conscious decision to be the peacemaker in her home.  She knows that, as the mother in the home, she has the power to help her family members overcome any contention that arises.  She recognizes that if she is in a black mood, it affects the rest of her family and has decided that she will make an effort to keep her mood upbeat and calm.  She says that making the decision to be the peacemaker has made quite a difference in her home.

It got me thinking.  My mood is my choice.  If I’m walking around crabby, it is going to make everyone else crabby.  If I am feeling lighthearted and act accordingly, it is going to affect my family members in a similar way.  I can choose the mood felt in our home.  “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” is true.  And then whose fault is it????  Mama’s!

Choose to set the tone in your home!

THIS is the face of a deception on the part of Huh and Mack:

They actually thought that if they paid $20.00 for the puppy and snuck him into the house under Mack’s shirt we would simply say “yes.”

“Look how cute he is, Mom!” was the plea.

They named him Cooper and enlisted the help of siblings in the pleadings.  Yawlin looked at me with his own version of puppy dog eyes and said, “Pleeeeease!”  Hoob asked, “What’s wrong with having two dogs?”

 Even though Juju and Shroom are with their mother on Wednesdays, they got into the act and sent pleading texts to Hub.  “Keep the puppy!”  “Say yes, Dad!”

We are still in the dark as to how Juju and Shroom even learned that there was a puppy here.  All kids here deny letting them know.

A bewildered Max was not sure what to think…

…about this wiggly newcomer.

I reminded the kids that we didn’t allow a little lost kitty to make a home here.  Their pleadings continued.  I told Huh that she’d already gotten away with getting a pet mouse into the home; a mouse that, incidentally, has become a fat mouse.

The pleading, begging, sad-eyed looks did not work.

The answer is still “no.”

Cooper needs a home.


Update:  My biopsy turned out as expected.  The lump was benign.  Tests showed that my niece’s heart murmur hasn’t disappeared, but it also hasn’t gotten any worse, so she will still be able to have her tonsillectomy tomorrow as planned.  After a miserable time in the hospital, my dad is getting released today.  He will have to take a blood thinner for the rest of his life.  But, at least he is okay!

Some ways I’ve spent time with my family members recently:

*The kids were listening to music in the living room and dancing to their favorite parts.  Huh saw me as I was coming down the stairs and said, “Mom, watch how we used to dance to this at school dances.”  She then proceeded to jump around and wave her arms.  “Some people would even get in your face like this.”  Huh moved to within two inches of me and continued to jump and wave her arms.

I watched for a few seconds and then said, “I can do that.”  I then started to jump and wave my arms.  The kids stared in shock and then burst out in laughter.  The laughter spurred me on to even more crazy moves (I am so glad there wasn’t a video camera around).  The kids joined me in my crazy dance.

*I have some upcoming training for some testing I will be performing at my son’s school, and I have an upcoming camp meeting for the summer camp I will be taking the young women of my ward (congregation) to this summer.  Both places have addresses I was unfamiliar with.  When that is the case, I like to drive to the address a few days before so that I can make sure I know where I am going.  I invited Huh to come along with me to find the addresses.  I used the time in the car to visit with her about certain things going on in her life and some of the choices she is making. 

It was a much needed visit.

*We used the movie tickets my sister gave our family for Christmas  for a fun family outing to the movies instead of just distributing the tickets and telling the kids to go to a movie with their friends.

*Juju sent me a text from school asking if we had Jello in the house.  I stopped what I was doing to check the pantry to see if it contained Jello.  It did.  She then asked me to text her the flavors.  I took the time to do that as well.  It turns out she was bringing a friend home after school to make Jello and they wanted to make sure that the Jello flavors we had were “the good ones.”

*Mack’s boyfriend, SkiShop, has gone to school in Hawaii for a Semester.  She is missing him terribly.  While moping in her bedroom she used her cell phone to call our house phone to ask me to come down to her room and rub her back and “play with her hair.”  I immediately recognized it as a desire to talk.  Though it wasn’t the most convenient time to do so, I went to her room and granted her request.  And, yes, we talked–for almost two hours.

*Shroom came home from a church basketball game and joked about his lack of  offensive skills.  I crumpled up a piece of paper and aimed it for the kitchen trash.  “Watch my basketball skills!”  I missed.  And missed.  And missed again.  I’m not sure how many tries it took before I finally made the shot, but once I did, Shroom said that I should probably never try to play basketball.

*Hoob is the only one of our kids who has school today (the other kids’ schools have a teacher compensatory day).  She was pretty down about it last night.  I told her to hurry and get her homework done and then the two of us would sit by the fire and I would give her a neck rub to relax her for school.  She liked the idea and quickly got her homework done.  And, yes, I kept my promise.

*Sunday night I was so tired that I planned to go to bed early.  Because the kids didn’t have school the next day for the Martin Luther King holiday, Yawlin decided he wanted to stay up and play a game.  Any guesses on who he asked to stay up and play the game?  Yup, I didn’t get to go to bed early.  And he beat the pants off me!

*Hub was feeling a little stressed about work.  He needed to vent.  I listened.  The dishes, laundry, and vacuuming got put on hold.  But having him kiss me and thank me for listening made it all worth it.

Many times in posts on my blog I talk about the importance of spending time with our families.  I emphasize that again here.  There is nothing more important than making sure your family members know that they are loved enough that you will make time for them.   Look for those opportunities.  They will come.  

And you won’t regret it.


Update:  My doctor thinks the lump I felt is a lymph node, though he’s wondering why we can feel it since that is not usually the case.  I have a mammogram today to make sure there is nothing going on with the breast to make the lymph node more prominent.  My doctor doesn’t seem too concerned, so I’m not going to be either.

I love this quote from Michael J. Fox:  “…every day is filled with pretty cool adventures and surprises.”

Every day?  That is a great attitude to have!  I’ve decided to try an experiment this week and pay more attention to the adventures and surprises of the day.  Or, in other words, the positive things that happen each day.  The “adventures and surprises” don’t have to be anything big.  They can be as simple as these recent happenings in our family:

*Some of us watched a mother quail take care of one of her injured babies on our patio.

*Squid has been trying to beat his time on a local down hill biking trail.  The other day he came into the house and excitedly announced, “Kween, I just did the downhill in nine minutes forty five seconds!”  Thirteen seconds faster than last time.  My reply?  “Woo hoo!” and a high five.

*Mack asked me to play “Horse” with her in the backyard one evening.  We joked and laughed as we tried to make shots from the porch, from behind the basketball hoop, and facing backwards.  I lost.  As usual.

*Yawlin and I got a good laugh one afternoon as we watched Shroom and one of his friends get chased by a little “yip yip” dog.

*Near the end of the school year last spring Yawlin joined me at my crossing.  He visited with me while I crossed kids and told me all about his day.  When it came time for me to turn off the speed limit signs he decided to walk with me to the first sign.  Without warning I took off running towards the sign.  I heard Yawlin gasp, then laugh, and then he raced me to the sign.  It was a tie.  The best part was hearing Yawlin say, “That was funny Mom.”

*July 24 is a state holiday here.  Hub had to work that day since it was only a state holiday, not a national holiday.  Hub’s kids were spending the holiday with their mother.  So, that left me and my kids to celebrate the day together.  We decided on a matinee at the dollar theater and then bowling (Yawlin has free bowling passes from school).  When we got to the theater the show we wanted to see was sold out so we bought tickets for the next showing and then decided to still squeeze in a game of bowling.  What resulted was a game of “speed bowling.”  Instead of trying to beat our scores from the last time that we went bowling, we simply tried to get through the game as fast as possible and still make it back to the theater in time for our movie.  We laughed a lot during that game.  As we rushed to turn in our bowling shoes the kids all reported that it was the funnest game of bowling they’d ever had.   

Simple adventures.  Lots of laughs.  This week I will be looking for adventures and surprises in my day-to-day activities.  I will report the results next Monday.



Because some have asked…my dizzy spells and weird heart symptoms have disappeared.  It is still a mystery as to what was causing it.  It is a mystery that will probably never be solved.  I’m just glad to be feeling healthy again!

You have to know how to laugh at yourself when you live with teenagers.  Teens will tease you.  They will point out your faults.  They will let you know when you are being a geek, nerd, dweeb, or dork.

I’ve been teased about missing my exit when driving, about my facial expressions, about texting with one hand, and about certain stories I tell about my past.  In my opinion, if a teen is comfortable teasing a parent, the relationship is a healthy one.  My kids tease me, and then follow it up with a hug or peck on the cheek.  And I eat it up!  Let them tease me all they want; it’s better than a gloomy, moody grouch who refuses to speak to anyone. 

It is because of the inevitable teasing that I have never bothered to learn how to get my cell phone out of the ALL CAPS mode when I have to manually type in a word when the phone doesn’t recognize it in t9 mode.  The kids tease me about it whenever I send a text that has to include a word in ALL CAPS.  Recently, while I was in Hawaii with Huh and Mack, I sent a text to Hoob asking her how she was enjoying staying at her grandparents home.  She responded that she had been spending a lot of time with some of her cousins.  The cousins all have the last name of Jensen.  My phone didn’t recognize the name Jensen so my message back to Hoob looked like this:  Have you been having fun with the JENSENS?

Hoob’s response:  YES i have BEEN having fun WITH  the JENSENS.

Me:  Lol.  I don’t know how to fix that.

Hoob:  Ha ha.  Oh mom.  So helpless.

Helpless.  She can think I’m helpless all she wants.  I don’t plan on ever learning how to get my phone out of ALL CAPS mode because those texts have been the means of much laughter.  As soon as I shared the texting conversation I had with Hoob with her older sisters they immediately started reminiscing about other times I had sent them similar “yelling” texts. 

“Remember the time Mom sent us a text that she was going to be late picking us up because she was picking up our SIBS?”

“How about all the times she types Yawlin’s name?  She yells our little brother’s name everytime she texts us about him.  ‘Do you know where YAWLIN is?  Or, ‘YAWLIN has pack meeting tonight, do you want to come?’  Yup, Mom, does a lot of yelling in texts!”

They tease.  I chuckle and nod my head.  They say, “Poor Mom.”  And then they give me a hug to make me feel better.  The hugs are worth the teasing.

I love to see the same types of interactions with other parents and their teens.  It shows me that there are other parents out there fostering positive relationships with their kids.  One of my friends from high school regularly gets teased by his daughter on Facebook, and I love to read their interactions.  It is clear they love and respect each other in a fun way.  Once he simply posted:  “Rock on!”

His daughter responded with:  “Wow dad.  Is that the only cool thing you could think of to say?”

Typical teen.  The same daughter posted a message on her dad’s page after he posted that he was going hiking with the scouts.  Her message:  “Daaaaaaaaad!  I miss you!  I hope you’re having a fun, SAFE time on your hike.”

Clearly, she loves her dad.  And I love to see it!  I’ve been with friends when their teens have teased them about the tv shows they watch, the times they’ve tripped, and their methods of discipline.  I’ve watched my sister’s kids tease her about things she has said or done.  Each time the parent being teased has simply laughed it off and responded by some gentle teasing of their own.  I learn from these examples and try to incorporate them into the relationships I have with my own kids.  You can’t take yourself too seriously when you are dealing with teens.  They will eat you alive if you do!  The best thing to do when your teen starts teasing you is to laugh it off and milk it for a hug and/or kiss.  Laughing strengthens the relationship, and it is the relationship that is most important, not your need to “save face.”

It isn’t always teenagers that poke fun.  My nine-year-old has taken a few jabs at my expense.  His sisters have taught him well!  And then there is this recent conversation that a friend of mine had with her four-year-old daughter.  She posted it on Facebook:

Four-year-old:  Mommy, if I give you some money, will you be nice today?

Mommy:  Sure.  How much money do you have?

Four-year-old:  Enough to keep you quiet.

Won’t it be fun to see what that little girl is like as a teenager?  🙂

It’s been on the wall for about a year.  I haven’t had the heart to remove it.  He was so proud of himself for actually getting it there.  And, I can’t remove something that so clearly gives me a glimpse into his quirky personality. 

...on Yawlin's wall.

...on Yawlin's wall.

What is it?  It is dried paint.  Last summer Hub and Mack painted one of the walls in her room a deep plum color (her choice).  While the two of them were off cleaning the paint roller and brushes, Yawlin carefully pealed the skin of paint left on the bottom of the paint pan and, using push-pins, tacked it to his wall.  For some reason he liked that skin of paint.  It’s quirky.  It’s different.  It’s totally Yawlin.  And so I’ve left it there. 

The other day when I once again noticed the paint skin hanging on the wall it got me wondering what sort of things the other kids in our family have hanging on their walls.  The walls of the kids’ bedrooms tend to be invisible to me.  I’m usually more concerned about what is on their floors or lurking under their beds.  I decided to make the rounds with my camera and see what the bedroom walls of our house are sporting.  Maybe it will give a glimpse into the personalities of our family members…

Across the hall from Yawlin’s room is Huh’s room.  Two things caught my attention:

A corgi.

A corgi.

 Huh’s drawing of a corgi that she did in her art class her junior year of high school…and…a sign one of her softball friends sent her…

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Down the hall is Hoob’s room.  I walked in with my camera and said, “What’s on your wall?” 

Hoob pointed to her display wall (she has dedicated an entire wall to display things of interest to her) and said, “My coin flower!”

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Squid and Shroom share a room in the basement.  Their walls were empty except for two posters showing a snowboarder.

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Across the hall from Squid and Shroom’s room is Juju’s room.  Her walls were completely blank, but I was able to take a picture of one of her oragami creations that she has hanging from the ceiling.

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Down the hall is Mack’s bedroom.   Her walls were also blank, except for one area.  Mack “gets” to have one of the fuse boxes in her room.  She has covered the metal box with a collage of items of interest to her. 

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A close-up of one of the items:

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What of the master bedroom?  Just some uninteresting pictures.  My mirror does have this picture tucked into the side though:

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That is me with some of the live scorpions crawling over me as I participated in “Fear Factor-Live” at Universal Studios Orlando last summer.  Propped up on one of our dressers is a painting placed there by Hoob.  One of her favorites that she created in her art class last year.

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Whenever Hub’s office door is closed with this on it, we know to not disturb him:

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Allowing your kids to have some say in bedroom decor will give them a small sense of freedom.  Whether it be plum walls, green and purple rugs strewn strategically on the floor, or an entire wall dedicated to their doodles, allowing that freedom to deocorate will give you a tiny glimpse into who they are.  It might even be a great conversation starter. 

It is a small price to pay to allow them to be them.

The foundations of a mother/daughter relationship…

*Attending as many of her softball games as possible over the years–rain or shine.  Cheering her on.  Encouraging her when she’s down.  Helping her to own the problem when she is struggling with her skill level.   Giving in to your daughter’s insistence that you try chewing sunflower seeds and spitting the shells “like a pro” (which all softball players think they are) and having the seeds end up all over your chin because you are clueless on how to chew and spit sunflower seeds “like a pro” and then enduring your daughter’s laughter as she witnesses you failing to chew and spit sunflower seeds “like a pro.”  Enduring the teasing of the entire softball team as they see how slow you are at texting.  In other words, laughing at yourself with your daughter.  Sitting up late listening to your daughter after she has returned from a date fiasco.  Rubbing her back.  Letting her know that she is not a bad person.  Watching a movie with her at midnight because she can’t sleep because she’s too depressed after dealing with one of those “loser, infantile, idiots” called “teenage boy.”  Gently, but firmly insisting that the curfew be honored because you love her and don’t want her to get hurt.  Talking about the stupid things boys try.  Looking up boys in the yearbook with her so that she can show you which ones are cute.  Picking her up from school in the middle of the day when she calls and says she needs to talk.  And all the little things that add to the “emotional bank account”–helping with homework, buying her surprises, throwing a surprise birthday party, spending one-on-one time together, going for walks, sending emails, watching YouTube videos together, snacking late at night, praying with her, talking about God, laughing and crying together, asking her to put a “messy” bun in your hair because you like the way she does hers, shopping for new jeans and shoes, going to lunch, insisting that she do chores, letting her know she did a good job on her chores, letting her drive, bringing her a snack at work, texting her, getting to know her friends, inviting her friends to attend church with you, apologizing to her when you make a mistake, etc. 

…will help you get through the times your daughter…

*Makes choices that cause her pain.  Tries sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night.  Gets angry with you when you catch her trying to sneak out of the house.  Allows a certain 21 year old to manipulate her into believing things she knows deep down inside are not true.  Gets manipulated by said 21 year old into leaving the house in defiance of your rules.  Allows loser 21 year old to talk to you disrespectfully.  Loses her faith in God, you, and herself.  Tries to play the “18 card.”  As in, “I am 18 now.  I can do whatever I want.”  Which in turn causes you to implement such disciplinary actions as needed to help her see just how much an 18 year old who has yet to graduate from high school still needs her parents.

…and will play a role in her return when she…

*Finally recognizes the manipulations she has allowed herself to fall for.  Realizes that you aren’t as stupid and out of it as she thought.  Apologizes for her actions.  Begins to make the changes she needs to make in order to get her life back on track.

Build that foundation.  Keep it strong.  If the foundation is there, sooner or later, she will return!

In the March 2009 Ensign there is a reprint of an article by Marion G. Romney.  In the article he quotes from an old Reader’s Digest article (Fable of the Gullible Gull, Reader’s Digest, Oct. 1950, 32) that I think is blog worthy:

“In our friendly neighbor city of St. Augustine great flocks of sea gulls are starving amid plenty.  Fishing is still good, but the gulls don’t know how to fish.  For generations they have depended on the shrimp fleet to toss them scraps from the nets.  Now the fleet has moved…

“The shrimpers had created a Welfare State for the…sea gulls.  The big birds never bothered to learn how to fish for themselves and they never taught their children to fish.  Instead they led their little ones to the shrimp nets.

“Now the sea gulls, the fine free birds that almost symbolize liberty itself, are starving to death because they gave in to the ‘something for nothing’ lure!  They sacrificed their independence for a handout.

“A lot of people are like that too.  They see nothing wrong in picking delectable scraps from the tax nets of the U.S. Government’s ‘shrimp fleet.’  But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods?  What about our children of generations to come?

“Let’s not be gullible gulls.  We…must preserve our talents of self-sufficiency, our genius for creating things for ourselves, our sense of thrift and our true love of independence.”

The article is applicable to today.  And, as always, I look to see how it applies to families.  Am I teaching my children self-reliance?  Will they be self-sufficient?  Am I leading them to be independent?

Much to ponder.

If even one of the circumstances hadn’t been in place, it never would have happened. 

A few months ago, the host brother of one of Juju’s foreign exchange friends was dropping her off at our house when he saw my daughter, Huh, come out and get into our car to go somewhere.  He liked what he saw.  Unknown to me, he inquired around and found out Huh’s cell phone number and started texting her.  He is 21.  She was 17.  They decided to meet.  Because Huh knew that I would be very wary of her dating a 21-year-old, she made the choice to keep it all secret from me.  They managed to meet secretly, Huh even sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night a few times, for about two and a half weeks before I caught them and the whole truth came out.  Trust was gone and privileges were taken away.  Shortly after that, the guy dumped her.

Huh has had to work hard to regain my trust.  She was still working to regain it this past weekend.  Friday night began as normally as normal can be in our busy household.  The teens all had various plans.  Yawlin had a couple of friends over for a “late-night” and Shroom had two friends sleeping over.  Those who were out all returned by curfew and we were able to settle in to bed at a fairly decent hour. 

At 4:30 a.m. Huh came into my room and woke me up.  “Mom, Patrick just called and says he needs to talk to me.  Can he come get me?”  Patrick is the 21 year old.

I sat up in bed and said, “At four thirty in the morning?  Absolutely not!”

“Mom, he says it’s important.”

“There is nothing so important that it can’t wait until a decent time of day.”

“What if I just talk to him on the front porch?”

“No.”  I pointed to the empty spot next to me in bed.  “Hub is obviously not sleeping well.  When he can’t sleep he goes down to the couch to try to sleep so that he doesn’t keep me awake.  It’s possible he is finally sleeping and I don’t want you waking him up by opening the front door.”

Huh looked at me for awhile and then said, “Okay.  I’ll tell him it can wait.”  She left my room and I remained sitting up in bed.  Now I couldn’t sleep.  What if she tried to sneak out?  I tried reading, with one ear listening for the squeak of Huh’s bedroom door.  Finally, at 6:30 I put my book down and dozed off.  At 6:50 my eyes flew open as I heard the front door quietly open and close.

I jumped out of bed and peeked out my bedroom blinds.  I could see the back of a figure with a black hoodie over their head going down the steps of our front porch.  At that moment a black SUV pulled around the corner and stopped in front of our house.  That is when the She-Bear mom instinct kicked in.  I pounded down the steps to the front door, threw it open, and yelled my daughter’s name at the top of my voice.  The black SUV stopped and I continued to yell.  “YOU DO NOT HAVE PERMISSION TO LEAVE!”

The passenger window rolled down and the driver leaned forward.  I heard a male voice say, “What?”


Again I heard, “What?” And then I saw a flash of silver braces on the passenger’s teeth.  Huh does not have braces.  That is when I became totally mortified.  That wasn’t my daughter.  It was one of Shroom’s friends who had slept over.  Oh how I wished for a hole I could crawl into.  Embarrassment doesn’t even begin to describe what I was feeling.

I jogged down the porch steps and over to the waiting SUV, nervously laughing as I went.  As soon as I got to the window I put my hand on Zach’s knee and said, “I am so sorry.  I thought you were someone else.”

Zach leaned back in his seat and said, “I just have a track meet.”

I laughed and said again, “I am so sorry.”  I looked at Zach’s mom, the driver.  “I have had problems with a daughter sneaking out.  I thought Zach was her sneaking out again.  I am so sorry.”

She laughed and said, “It’s okay, I would have done the same thing.”  After wishing Zach luck at his track meet and apologizing again, I went into the house and they drove away.

Hub was sitting up on the couch, no longer asleep.  Huh was standing at the top of the stairs.  “Why did you yell my name?” asked Huh.

“Oh, uh, did you hear that?”

“Geez, I thought someone was dying.  It scared me to death.”  I laughed and Huh spun on her heal and went back into her room.

I walked over to Hub on the couch and plopped down beside him.  “Well, I just made a complete fool of myself.”  Hub laughed and rubbed my back.  I relayed the happenings of what had led up to my outburst to him and then put my head in my hands and groaned, “Oh, what must the neighbors think?”  Hub really laughed hard at that.  “And what must poor Zach and his mom be thinking?”

 Later, as the kids all started to wake up, the story was told to them.  Over and over the story got repeated, and I got to endure much teasing.  I looked at Shroom and asked, “What if Zach never wants to come over here again?”

Shroom laughed and said, “Well, who could blame him.  My crazy stepmom yelled at him.  Told him that he didn’t have permission to leave.”

Huh recounted how she’d been sound asleep when she heard me yell her name.  She instantly thought something was wrong and was tripping over all of her clothes to get to her door when she heard the second part of my yell about not having permission to leave.  Oh mom, she thought.  She moved to the stairs knowing that eventually I would discover that it wasn’t her that I was yelling at.

We had a family baptism later that morning.  As they called our group to leave the chapel to go into the room where the baptismal font is located Squid turned to me and asked, “Do we have permission to walk downt the hall?”  All of the kids laughed.  Needless to say, I endured a lot of teasing that day.

If there hadn’t been the past history of Huh sneaking out, it never would have happened.

If Patrick hadn’t called and wanted to talk to Huh at 4:30 in the morning, it never would have happened.

If Zach hadn’t had his hood on and I’d been able to see his hair and face, it never would have happened.

If Zach hadn’t been so darned quiet about opening and closing the door, it never would have happened.

I try to comfort myself.  At least Huh really was in her bed, where she was supposed to be.  At least Zach’s mom seemed to understand and even said she would have done the same thing.  And now Huh knows that I have no fear of making a scene in front of the neighbors if I ever catch her trying to sneak out.

But even with all of that…

…I am sooooo embarrassed!

Yesterday I made my son mad at me.  It wasn’t deliberate, at least not in the usual sense.  I knew when I did it he might get mad.  But, I had no choice.

I had already taught my art lesson to second grade, then first grade, and was now in my son’s third grade class to teach them about Vincent Van Gogh.  My son’s class has a bit of a reputation.  It isn’t one of the easiest classes to teach.  It seems that most of the disruptive kids were put in this one class.  The teacher maintains control by taking minutes away from recess when the “class” is misbehaving.  I guess it works for her.  The problem with that system is that it punishes the kids who are being good along with those who are misbehaving.  Since the teacher leaves the room for the forty minutes that I teach, I decided to try a different approach.

I announced to the class that at the end of the session, if I felt that a majority of the class had been good, I would restore some of the recess minutes that had already been taken away that day, but that I was taking it one step further.  I was going to keep a list of any who disrupted the class in any way.  At the end of the session I would give the list to the teacher and she could decide what to do with those students.  Maybe it would only be them missing recess time.  I told them that if they got their name on the list they would have one chance to get it removed by listening and being good.  If they got their name on the list a second time it would be on the list permanently.

I began my power point about Van Gogh.  Part way through the lesson, as I was sharing a letter Van Gogh had written to his brother, I glanced over at my son and saw him and the girl that sits next to him sprawled upside down in their chairs.  They were giggling to each other.

“Uh oh,” I said as I pulled out my paper and pen, “It looks like Yawlin and K are the first to get their names on the list.”  Yawlin and K quickly sat up.  I heard some of the most disruptive boys in the class snicker.  If the lights hadn’t been out for the power point, I’m sure I would have seen my son blushing.  I went on with the lesson.  Yawlin sat through the rest of the lesson with a scowl on his face.  I’m pretty sure that he had thought he could get away with goofing off because the art teacher is his mom.  He thought wrong.

When I passed out the prep work for next week’s art project Yawlin took the papers without looking at me.  He wrote his name and began the work.  He didn’t say a word to anyone.  Four more kids got their names added to the list.  All but one boy managed to get their names removed.  At the end of the session I handed the paper to the teacher who immediately called the boy whose name remained on the list over to talk with him about his behavior.  I pushed my cart to the door and looked over at Yawlin, who usually gives me a hug before I leave to teach Kindergarten, but he was ignoring me.  Oh well, I thought.  He’ll get over it.  

When Yawlin reached my crossing that afternoon he continued to ignore me.  He didn’t even look at me as he crossed the street.  Periodically I sat in the car to get warm between crossing groups of kids.  I tried asking Yawlin about his day.  Silence.  I told him a funny joke I’d heard.  Silence.  I commented about some of his friends.  Yawlin reached down and grabbed a magazine I have in the car and started thumbing through it.  Not a word to me.

Okay, time to make sure he understood.  “Hey, just because you are my son doesn’t mean I am going to ignore any misbehavior from you.  It is just plain rude to goof off when someone is teaching you a lesson.  And you’d better not be disruptive when your regular teacher is teaching, because if I find out you are goofing off in class I am going to have to do something about it at home.  Hope you understand.  And hope you get over it.”

Yawlin continued to look at the magazine.  I finished crossing kids, turned off the speed limit signs, and drove home.  After parking the car in the driveway I looked at Yawlin.  That magazine had become his best friend.  I grabbed my keys.  “Make sure you bring your back pack in with you when you decide to come in the house.”  I went into the house to greet the rest of the kids.  Yawlin came in shortly afterward and stomped up the stairs to his room.

Yawlin and his sisters went to spend a couple of hours with their dad like they always do on Thursday nights.  When he returned home he took his shower and then brought his homework to me to sign.  He gave me a hug and a kiss, told me he loved me, and went to bed.  This morning at my crossing he read his library book while I crossed kids.  When it was time for him to cross and walk to school he got out of the car, gave me two hugs and flashed me the “I love you” sign with his hand.

Yup, he got over it.

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