Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lil'Bro And His Fear Box

I'll try to make this quick as I'm supposed to hit the hay. I've been sick with allergy-induced asthma and all sorts of phlegmy goodness for about a week now. Getting better. But shouldn't stay up blogging.

And yet...

Had to share this gem with you.

Lil'Bro is 6. It's around this age that many kids start wrestling with fear. Pokemon Boy went through a real battle with this that was exacerbated by his anxiety disorder. Lil'Bro seems to be pretty much on par for his age.

He's becoming more aware of the world. He hangs with older kids more than PB did at this age. Simply because he is included in PB's world. He's also more saturated in a peer group at this age than PB was. So he hears all sorts of stuff from other kids of all ages.

One kid on the bus informs him that curses (like in movies) are REAL and can kill you. This same kid tells him days later that there are these certain words that, if you say them? They'll kill you! This kid needs to stop watching horror movies.

Another child regales the after school class with stories of parasites: what they are, what they can do to you (always the worst case scenarios, mind you). She informs everyone on bed-bugs later in the week. She's probably just reciting snippets from her recent viewing of something in Discovery.

Then there are the real worries of little kids like, what if something happens to mom? What if so and so dies? What if lava erupts under our house? What if a tornado hits us?

I don't want my kids to live in fear. I held on to lots of fears as a kid. I had a particular fear of "bad guys". And I'm talking stereotypical cat-burglar types, all in black with the black ski-masks, etc? Oh yah. I would have waking dreams where they'd be standing in my room with a ravenous barking dog. I'd be convinced they were outside my house, holding a single match to the corner of the house to burn my house down. Because I'm sure that's how arson is done. I was terrified of hurricanes and tornadoes. Earthquakes and volcanoes. At one point, I was terrified of the Bermuda Triangle. This, while I lived in New England.

So I get fear. And I get how it can stick to you. My mom told me she never knew to teach us kids how to pray against it. It never occurred to her.

In 2005, my small group specifically targeted fear with in-depth prayer. It was amazing. And when God broke the grip of the paralyzing fear in my life at that time, it really did feel like freedom. Oh don't get me wrong. I still wrestle with fear. Real and imagined. I don't watch the news because of how it affects my boys. But also because it's too easy to buy into the media's biased frenzy. And there are still nights when I leap onto my bed, careful not to let my feet dangle over the edge . . . just in case there's someone or something under my bed.

But now I know how to battle it. God is a God of peace. The prince of stupidity is the author of fear. And he's darn good at it. But he still can't stand against earnest prayers in Jesus' name. Nope.

So, yah. Back to the subject (my hope of brevity once again shattered by my vomitous verbosity).

I've been arming my boys for years by teaching them to pray. I've shown them God doesn't care about fancy words. There's no secret formula to "praying the right way." You just tell him what's going on. You tell him what's wrong or what you're happy about. So I tell them to tell God what's scaring them - just like they'd tell me.

Well, praying against the fear wasn't really working all that well for Lil'Bro. It's one thing to ask for it. It's another to believe it. And it's a whole other kettle of fish to receive it. Especially when you're 6.

I'm pretty sure it was my Boston small group that taught me this visualization. I would package up a problem. Wrap it up in my mind. I usually visualized wrapping it tight in brown paper and lots of packing tape. And I would give it to God. Sometimes I would lay it at the foot of The Cross, asking God to take it from me. Or I'd say I'm releasing it to you, please take it from me.

So with Lil'Bro, I told him that we're gonna box up all our fears and ask God to take them. So we do this thing. We close our eyes and hold out our hands like we're holding the sides of a box. Then I say, "God, we're putting all these fears in this box," [miming putting things in our box]. "We need help because we just can't conquer these fears all by ourselves. But we know you can. So we're putting a lid on this box," [miming the lid] "and we're releasing them to you," [miming handing it out to God]. "So God, we release these fears to you and ask you to take care of them. Because we know you're big enough to handle it for us." That's the general gist of it.

So the other night, we're doing this. And after we released the fear box to God, Lil'Bro said something like, "Let's ask God to give the box back to us filled with [mumble mumble]..." I said, "What?" because it sounded like he said something like toys. And I thought, oh boy, he's getting the wrong idea. He mumbled it again and I said, "Toys?" He goes, "No mom. Let's ask God to return the box to us filled with JOY." Oh my goodness! And here I was thinking he might not be getting the idea. I nearly hugged his head off. "Of course! Yes! Let's ask God to return it to us filled with joy!!" I had him pray that part. Which he did swimmingly. I have no doubt God did so with a big huge smile on his face.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Total Departure

Blame this one on a tweet I saw from @cbethblog. But she got me to thinking about the English language and how silly our spelling rules are. This was ever apparent to me as I taught my little genius Pokemon Boy how to read, starting around two. He was fine when we'd tell him, "I know what the rule is but this is just one of those weird exceptions." But it made me think what a silly language we have.

cbethblog's tweet made me think about it a bit more than I probably needed to. Hey, I'm home sick. I have too much time on my hands. Sue me.

Here's what I wrote down:

A/a - keep: handles short and long A sounds. Replaces all the vowel combos that try to be long A's like "ey" or "ei".
B/b - keep: handles B sound
C/c - change: we have S and K. We need a letter to handle CH.
D/d - keep: handles D sound
E/e - keep: handles short and long E sounds. Replaces all the vowel combos that try to be long E's. Also replaces any Y's making the long E sound. Just put two E's there or something. E's got it covered.
F/f - keep: handles all F sounds so no more "PH" stuff. And no faking at being a V.
G/g - adjust: handles only hard G sounds like garden or giraffe. No more of this handling J sounds.
H/h - keep: handles H sounds
I/i - keep: handles short and long I sounds. Replaces all the vowel combos that try to be long I's. Also replaces any Y's attempting to handle the long I sound. Just stop it. I has it covered!
J/j - keep: handles all J sounds, taking over for any G's pretending to be J's. Also replaces the need to have the "DGE" combo making the J sound. That's just superfluous and wasteful.
K/k - keep: handles the K sound and replacing the need for a "hard C" sound
L/l - keep: handles the L sound
M/m - keep: handles the M sound
N/n - keep: handles the N sound
O/o - keep: handles the short and long O sounds. Also replaces all occurrences of "AH" trying to be a short O.
P/p - keep: handles all P sounds. No more pairing with H to make the F sound. F has that covered.
Q/q - keep: but ditch the need for the U. What is WITH that? Q can handle it all alone.
R/r - keep: handles the R sound
S/s - keep: handles only the S sounds. No more trying to be a Z. Let Z have that. It has so very few words already. Let it have all the Z sounds, for heaven's sake!
T/t - keep: handles only the hard T sound. No more being the "SH" sound in things that have "tion" at the end. We'll get to the "SH" sound.
U/u - keep: handles the short and long U sounds. Which means there is no longer a need for the double O to make the oo sound. The long U handles that fine.
V/v - keep: handles the V sound
W/w - keep: handles the W sound. And no more of this silly "WH" combo that's just another "W" sound.
X/x - change: we already have a Z sound and the hard X sound can be handled by "KS". We need a letter to take on the softer "SH" sound since C will now handle the hard "CH". So X gets changed to the "SH" sound.
Y/y - keep: but it only handles the consonant pronunciation like in yellow or yard. No more faking as a long E or long I.
Z/z - keep: handles the Z sound. Taking over all the X's faking a Z sound.

We still need letters to handle the soft and hard "TH" sounds. Since I'm out of letters on the normal keyboard, I will substitute the ^ sign for the soft "TH" sound like in "these" or "those". And I will substitute the ~ sign for the hard "TH" sound like in "thanks" or "think".

We also need an "NG" sound as in "thing" or "sang". I'll use the < sign for that.

While we're at it, I think we need some new vowel rules. Have you ever tried to teach your kids rules for reading or spelling? "I before E except after C or when spelled like an A as in neighbor or weigh." Really? Or what about "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking"? Really? That's nice for the word "train" but what about the word "great"? And adding an E to the end of a word to make the vowel in the middle long? I can kind of live with that. Although it gets a little murky for words like "taste" or "bathe". It would be nicer to just have different letters - one for the short vowel, one for the longer. But I can't really do that on a normal keyboard, now can I. So I think I'll suggest, if you want a short vowel, you put the vowel by itself. If you want a long vowel, you plop an E right after it.

Let's try out this newly improved alphabet and rules on this sentence (and I've paraphrased it to give me all the sounds I want). Oh this should be good...

Original Silly English: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy sheep dog that is thinking of judging cheeses.

New Improved American: ^u qik brown fox jumps oevr ^u laezee xeep dog ^at iz ~eenkee< uv jujee< ceeziz.

See how good that looks? Every letter is making it's own sound and not pretending to be another letter. No more confusion for our preschoolers and kindergartners. No more having to say, "Yah, I know what the rule is but this is just one of those weird exceptions…"

Who's with me?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ain't Got No TIME!

Grammah-heads, go nuts on my title. I can take it.

I have no time these days. While I was laid off (or vacationing), I had plenty of time. Being a single mom while being laid off (caveat being that I had a full year of severance) was a piece of cake. I recall thinking, "This single mom thing isn't quite as hard as I had thought." This is where all the single parents can laugh at me. Go ahead. I'll wait.

My work day (including prep, drive, work and drive home) goes pretty much from 5:15am to about 4:30pm. Oh I'm not asking you to cry me a river. I'm sure any number of you can one-up me on this. I have no illusions that I'm some kind of unique sufferer here. I'm just sayin'. And if you know my last few decades of work, you'll know I'm used to sleeping in and working flex hours and having help covering the kid care thing. This is quite different for me.

It's not so bad. We've found a rhythm. We're not thrilled with having to get up this early. The boys don't love having to stay away from home for so long every day. Pokemon Boy, in particular, has voiced his discontent with being away from me so often. It's a sad thing to hear even as it makes me feel loved.

Most days I'm cool with this. Having been out of work for so long and then doing the job search in the midst of the hiring hell that was the end of 2009, I fully appreciate my job. But every now and then I'll have a day that reminds me that this is not the ideal plan. There is a reason that parenting is - ideally - a two person job.

It's a weird set of emotions. One the one hand, I Am Woman. Hear Me Roar. Don't sell me short. Because I'm strong as hell and have an attitude as big as my adopted state. Being thrown into single parenthood stretched me. God provided a new and improved spine. He seems to fill my gas tank every time I'm sure I'll pass out. I've been able to handle all sorts of things on my own that, a mere 4 years ago, I was positive I could never do alone! I've got God on my side. Ain't nothin' I can't do.

On the other hand, I'm human. And us humans are good at whining. We're good at complaining. We're lousy at forgiving. We're constantly looking at everyone else's plate to size up what they've got and hey, that's not fair! So as that fallible human, the hard days trip me up. Easily.

Last week, I didn't get a lot of sleep. My house was a cluttery mess. I was barely keeping up with the laundry. The boys were whiny and asking for things as if money grew out of my arm pits. I hadn't read with Lil'Bro in forever - which I'm supposed to do every night and mark in his school folder. I haven't been able to get to the spring maintenance of my yard...or anything else, for that matter. Oh I don't even remember it all but I had a list. I was down on myself. I was overwhelmed.

It was during this load that I had one of those moments. One of those moments where I just mulled over and over how unfair it is. That The Ex had just up and walked out and left all of this on me. There's a whole set of thoughts that go along that theme. None of which show any kind of maturity or grace. Plenty of family and friends would tell me I have every right to feel these things. But you know, it's been...wow...looking at the calendar, it's been 3 years exactly from when the proverbial fan was hit. I can't keep dredging this garbage up.

Anyway, as usual, this past Sunday, God gave my pastor a lesson just for me. Oh, it touched on a lot of things. But the mention of forgiveness and how hard it is - that's the part that stuck on me. I have no doubt that was God's intention.

So my prayer since Sunday is that God can put true forgiveness into my heart for The Ex and even for his girl thing. It's been a prayer off and on since 2007. I imagine it will be a prayer off and on for quite a while. You see, it's one thing to ask for it. It's another thing to mean it. And it's still another thing to actually receive it.

I have no time. Well, welcome to everyone else's reality, chica. I'm over it. I can make the time if I stop wasting it on self pity and all the other useless emotions I allow myself too often.

God has done some amazing work here. But it's a big job. He's not done yet. Thankfully.

Ok, I'm babbling. I'm outtie.