Nov 6, 2013

My Kids Are Awesome

When people compliment my kids, I always agree with them. "She's pretty amazing, isn't she," I'll say when someone tells me something great one of my kids has done. Or I'll just simply remark, "my kids are pretty awesome."

I think it takes people "aback" at times. Like... you just bragged about your kids.

Yes. Yes I did.

The thing is, I'm pretty tough on my kids, in the sense that I make them work hard, I work with each of them carefully on behavior stuff they are struggling with or need to change, and sometimes this is quite challenging. My kids are all highly intelligent (see, there's the brag again) and very strongwilled. And this can present lots of challenge. It is difficult to parent strongwilled children. But my thought is, strong willed people, who know right from wrong, who've learned compassion and the importance of obedience, who've developed good habits, can be the most amazing people. So I'm parenting the greatest set of kids. Nothing that turns out really great is usually easy. SO I'm optomistic.

And to the world around me, my message is always, "my children are awesome."

Because they are.

I have a few people I trust and talk to when I'm worried about how to handle something, or worry over a kid's tendency, or feel at a loss for parenting tools. Those are people who I know will understand--who've parented multiple kids of their own and know kids go through stuff and turn out wonderfully in the end, and who I know won't talk about my kids to others. Also Jeffrey and I often (of course) discuss the various challenges in our family and strategize about how to handle them in such a way that our kids feel loved but also understand how they need to act and what they need to change, at times.

But outside of that small clutch of people I trust, I don't say that kind of stuff. I don't talk about my kids' struggles. I figure, kids deserve privacy just as much as an adult does. Would I talk to the entire world about an adult friend's struggles, an adult that I happen to know inside and out because am around them enough to observe & know all their deepest darkest secrets, worries, bad habits? Would i just go spill about all that stuff to anyone who'll listen? No way in heck. Those things are my friend's things. I have no right to talk about them to anyone else. That's called gossip.

I don't "gossip" about my kids to anyone. They are my friends, and I care about them deeply and believe in their right to privacy about deep struggles and difficulties.

When I talk about my kids, my words are: My Kids Are Awesome. Because they are.
And it's not wrong for a parent to say wonderful things about their children. TO accept and agree with compliments. My kids aren't "mine." When I accept a compliment and agree with it, I'm not complimenting myself, I'm agreeing that somebody I love a lot is Awesome.

So, with that as background, I feel like I need to take some time, right now, to talk about why each one of my kids is Awesome. This is part of my job as their mother. They need to hear it from me directly sometimes, not just random people who see their awesomeness from afar. I want my kids to know that I--their mother who sees every tiny little thing, who makes them work hard and learn hard and who corrects them and knows all their difficulties and struggles--know that they are awesome, too.

This is Loli.

That picture is from the Les Miserables play my community put on this summer. As you can see, she played Cosette. Loli has a beautiful voice, and is intuitive about music. She learns it fast and easily. She also has a great memory--she memorized those lines almost the first time she heard them. The director of the play thought I must have been going over lines with her and making her practice... not so. Loli just loves to sing, and loved being in the play. She acted the part perfectly. She is very talented.

She is also very intelligent. She's good at school... she's a little bookworm... she enjoys being challenged. She asks probing questions about the universe. She writes brilliantly--some of her stuff reads better than essays I corrected as a TA in college. She also is a fun person to be around. She has good friends. She's funny. She raises an eyebrow at me when I'm joking... she can tell even when I'm not smiling. She is pretty confident about her opinions. She is obedient and trustworthy. She is, all in all, a pretty amazing kid.

This is Bella.

Obviously, Bella is beautiful. But there's more to it than that. She's graceful, and dignified, and hilarious. She makes her sisters and brothers laugh and brings the boisterous fun. When you first get to know her, she might seem very quiet and very careful and calm, but don't let her fool you. Bella is a hard worker. She is very motivated to achieve well. She does all her jobs well--meticulously, and in school, she went from being somewhat behind because English is not her first language, to being one of the more advanced students in a matter of months. She loves to read. She loves to write me sweet, honest notes and draw pictures. She is very compassionate and responsible with babies and small children. I know when I leave my babies with Bella, they are safe. She is also a good leader. She knows what needs to happen and doesn't rest until it does. She works diligently, practices diligently, and is a good and loyal friend and daughter. She asks all the questions that are hard to answer, and is patient when they can't be answered immediately. She always wants to do what's right.

This is MayMay.

As you can see, MayMay's entire face is taken up by her smile. She has an amazing smile. MayMay came to our family with a lot of challenges to overcome--physical and mental and emotional, because of what she'd gone through before. She has grown fast into a wonderful, smart, bright, energetic, strong, capable girl. I'm indescribably proud of her for what she did in school last year--went from a K+ reading level to just a little above a 2nd grade reading level. She continues to improve, because of hard, diligent work. MayMay is all heart. She loves everybody, even people who aren't nice all the time. She thinks about others feelings a lot. SHe gets sad when others are sad. She gets happy when others are happy. She is often a peacemaker and intercessor in our family; when a kid is sad, she's the one who's there first. If they might be getting in trouble, she rushes to explain for them. At school, she's the one who sits by the alone kid or talks to the sad kid and is brave enough to tell kids who aren't being nice that they aren't being nice, and she even lets not-nice kids have a chance at redemption, in the sense that she forgives and will be a friend and rejoice when someone has gotten better at being nice. Meaza has a lot of friends, but it's not for the surface reasons of designer clothes or cool hair (though her hair is very cool) or owning lots of stuff. She has friends because she is a great friend. The best you could ever ask for.

This is Roo. (formerly known on this blog as "Jaws.")

Roo is just pure sweetness. She's smart, and funny, and thinks about things a lot and comes to some great conclusions. She is the best hugger in the family. Her hugs are heartfelt and tender. Roo inherrited her dad's giant, compassionate heart and tendency to reach out to others in love, even when it's a risk. She is also very musical. She surprises people with her sweet, true voice. She is also very smart. She remembers stuff quickly and learns quickly. And she is patient with the learning process--she trusts that she'll be able to figure something out if she keeps trying. Roo is very imaginative. She makes up all kinds of complex games with layered themes, not shying away from the grittiness of life. Her younger siblings and her older sister MayMay love to play with her. Roo is easily cajoled out of sadness or upset-ness. All you have to do is smile at her, and she'll smile back. That is a talent I would love to have. She really loves people. When her friends are away, she misses them deeply and thinks about them a lot. Roo is very inclusive. She doesn't want to leave people out. She has an infectious smile and laugh, and she's just an adorable, sweet, smart person. I feel grateful to have her in my home.

This is Squirt.

Squirt is very smart. Scary smart. He's learning first grade math right now and he can read almost at a first grade level, and he's only five. And he'd be further along than that if I pushed him, but I want him to enjoy school and feel like it's a fun experience, and he does. He loves school. He'll ask to do sight words and math facts flashcards and to read from science books with me about things like reptiles and amphibians and dinosaurs. He asks a lot of questions. Questions that I often cannot answer in their complexity. We have discussions together and come to some possible conclusions instead in those circumstances. Squirt is a very energetic boy, but he has a big heart as well. He loves his little brother deeply. He enjoys his siblings a lot--especially the ones younger than him, and likes to laugh when they do cute things and tell me about them. Squirt is also a leader. His friends really enjoy playing with him. He brings the fun. Squirt loves his mom and dad and his sunday school teachers. He loves to dress up like his Dad for church. Last Sunday, when we came down from singing a number in the ward choir, Squirt crossed the room of his own accord to go sit next to his primary teacher and he beamed the whole time. He really loves his teachers. Squirt has a sense of humor--he laughs a lot at jokes and when he's being tickled. Squirt loves hugs. Sometimes he needs to cuddle for a while with his mom, who finds this incredibly sweet. Squirt loves tools, and mechanical things, and his favorite thing to do is be with his Dad, fixing or building something. Squirt has an amazing memory-- he retains information others miss, and remembers and makes connections that often surprise. Squirt will do amazing things as he grows and learns more.

This is Baby Rose.

Perhaps the most beautiful baby ever. Rose is sweet and funny and enthusiastic. She loves playing with her siblings. She also has a great imagination, sometimes with hilarious results. Rose loves hugs. She loves her older and younger siblings, who cherish her. She was the first baby born after the adoption so she is "all of ours" in a way that seemed to emotionally seal our family together after all the changes. Loli, Bella, MayMay, Roo, and Squirt all have a soft spot for her. Rose loves her friends. She'll reach over to hold someone's hand or hug them without a second thought. She's got a great smile. She's energetic and plays any game you want to play, and makes a really cute pirate. Roo is articulate and surprising, with some of the things she comes up with--a little three year old girl talking so articulately, like an adult. She sings beautifully--surprisingly strong, clear, and in tune for a three-year-old. And in a way, she is a little adult. She takes matters into her own hands. She is sure of herself and intelligent and expects people to take her seriously, and also love her. And if something doesn't make sense, she'll either call you on it (you're teasing me, that's not true) or ask questions until she understands. Which I think is a great thing. She looks after her baby brother with a level of care and attention that I love to see.

This is Chumba.

Chumba is impossible not to love. He's sweet, he talks all the time (though most of it is still hard to understand) with great emphasis and feeling. He loves to play with his siblings, and willingly joins in all the pretending, playacting, and other games. He needs "cuddle breaks" every once in a while-- he'll come sit on my lap or lay next to me on the bed and just be quiet, while I hug him. He loves to be cuddled by his siblings, too (except when he doesn't) and when anybody's hurt or upset, he'll go over to them, lean over them and stare at them with his large blue eyes and usually, plant a kiss somewhere. He's very intensely interested in everything. From the time he was born, he was reaching for stuff. Honestly, right out of the womb, laying on my chest, he was reaching out and trying to grab things--my hair, my face. He likes to take things apart and then try to put them back together, like his Dad. He loves to have books read to him, especially Ten Little Tadpoles and Olivia's Opposites, where he likes to open his mouth really wide on the page about "Open," and he likes to growl really loud on the page that says "loud," and has a lion growling. Sometimes you can just tell he's thinking very hard, figuring things out... he gets quiet, and intent, and moves two pieces of something together in different ways to try to figure out if they go together or not. He's a sweet baby. I'm a little sad that he won't be the baby of the family for much longer.

I guess while I'm at it, I should write a little bit about this guy:

Jeff is my best friend. At the time I met him, I was amazed that so much awesome could exist in one human being. He is compassionate, handsome, intelligent, artistic, open-minded, talented... holy cow, where did this guy come from? I have a very strong belief that the only reason he didn't marry until age 30 was because Heavenly Father was saving him for me, and I've wondered ever since what I did to deserve him. He plays Chopin and Debussy with so much feeling and artistry. Less, lately, because we're so busy... I miss it. He is a graceful, confident, dashing ballroom dancer. He is coordinated and capable and brilliant at figuring out how to fix things--we've never taken our (20-year-old) vehicles to the mechanic. He figures out what's wrong, goes to a junkyard for a part, and fixes it. And it's fixed. He can walk by things and sometimes they'll fix themselves. (I'm not kidding.) I know that if he's trying to figure out how to do something, particularly if it's something to make our family's life easier or better, he'll end up finding a solution that works well. And he'll continually try to refine solutions so they're easier and easier for me, (less competent at these things) to implement. He cares deeply about politics, about the gospel, and about family and relationships. He loves everyone, but makes friends carefully. I feel very privileged to be one of the handful of people he lets into the innermost places of his heart. He is passionate about certain topics, but not evangelical or pushy like some passionate people can be--he loves people into listening to him. And he is capable of compromise. He is a peacemaker, but he isn't threatened by resolving conflict. He's patient, and loving, and open, and if he's disturbed about something he goes quiet and contemplative, not angry or upset. He does almost everything he does for *me* and for our kids. He is a great husband and father, and it hasn't been an easy road, coming into a family with a kid already there, and blending a family once again through adoption. We've been through things that would test anyone's patience to the utmost, and he's come through each time, supporting me, supporting our kids. He cares for his Sisters and brothers. He's given blessings to them, and to me. What a great guy. No wonder my kids are awesome.

OK, I challenge you moms and dads, now. Tell me why all your kids are awesome.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

This is just beautiful. Thanks for sharing, Sarah. I feel honored to know you people.