Living simply in the wild

Posts tagged “raising boys

Juniors Musings

There’s a constant battle in our home of trying to keep boots and jackets on these boys. I’m always ringing through the house…”Boys, do you have boots on? Grab a jacket it’s chilly”. They almost always never have boots on, and i’m pretty sure they’ve forgotten what jackets are. Their rebuttals, however, are sometimes quite comical…

“Mom, it’s not like it’s zero degrees celsius or anything. So I could survive without a jacket today.”

 

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Teaching kindness: What’s in a name.

We are always teaching kindness to the Jr’s and as parents we never really know quite how we’re doing. This topic is always in the forefront of my mind, like it was here at the parade and here where they are so tender We can teach and teach until we are out of ways to teach then we must wait. Wait for the day when we start to see if we did something right or if we failed miserably.

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Today we got a little glimpse….
A conversation between the Jrs and another little boy (whom i’ve changed his name to retell this story):

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

“You like President Business?” the little boy asked the Jrs who were were Lego movie t-shirts.

“oh ya, we like President Business.” the Jrs said in unison.

“Cool so do I. What’s your name?”

The boys quickly stated their names and then asked him what his was.

“Jackson. I don’t really like my name though.”

Jr fired back saying, “Oh, well I think that’s a cool name.”

No the boys aren’t winning any prizes or medals for this tiny gesture, but as a mom it was a proud moment. There was no one around, in fact they didn’t even know I was listening. I can only hope that they continue to make small gestures like this to everyone they meet. Spreading kindness and lifting others up. In this world, that’s a big deal.


Raising Boys: The Tender Soul

Lately I’ve realized something profound…my Junior Rangers are more like me then I ever had hoped. This is not a bad thing but it’s not particularly a good thing because they seemed to have received a lot of my dents.

1) I noticed this the other day when they laughed at my jokes. Normally this wouldn’t be anything to write home about, but my jokes are aweful. So this is not something to brag about. Ranger, now he can make me laugh. He has an awesome sense of humor…and he rarely laughs as my jokes. So that tells me something.

2) The poor kids run into things….a lot. Tables, Walls, doors, it doesn’t matter. I always thought my sister was the clumsy one growing up, but looking back I was the one hanging by my underwear during an intense game of hide and go seek with all the neighborhood kids. The pants ripped, I tumbled to the ground face first and had to do a walk of shame with a mouthful of dirt.

3) They are tender. The soak up other peoples feelings. They feel their feelings to the fullest. When they are mad their MAD. When their happy their happy. They feel.

Every few months we will have a spell of crying at night. Not a few tears, but what is known as the ugly cry. You know the one where you’re eyebrows go crooked, your mouth gets wider.  The cries are from things that have happened years ago, things that stirred up dust once but have settled since then. But we have to rework through those issues as if they have just happened.

So how do you go about raising boys with a tender soul, someone who feels so deeply. Trust me, I write this for my own reminder, not because I have it figured out.

The world we live in is extremely harsh. We have to be tough, thick skinned, and withstand blow after blow. We must force ourselves and our children to be tough to deal with the world.  I believe we were all born sensitive, with all these feelings and emotions. Through the years we realized that it hurts, it hurts to feel so much. So we force ourselves to toughen up, to close off. And then we teach our children.

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We should be strong, we need to be strong in the world to face it. The balance is being strong and staying open.

So how do we raise boys with a tender soul?

1) We must be tender ourselves.

If you have ever paid attention to any child in your lifetime you will see that all of them take on actions and words of those adults they are around. In our house we use the word ridiculous quite often. Sure enough the other day Junior Kman came huffing and puffing out of his bedroom after getting dressed. His jeans were unbuttoned, shoes untied, he had skipped about 12 buttons on his shirt. Little man sat down on the stairs, crossed his little arms, stomped his foot and said very clearly and angrily, “I look widiculous!”. In fact he did look very ridiculous. So i hugged him, explained how we could remedy the situation and make him look a bit less ridiculous. I too get angry at my clothes, way more often then I should. Thankfully I have stopped yelling at my clothes because i’ve realized they don’t listen. So I understood where he was coming from.

Whether it is the words you use or the actions you put forth, they are watching and soaking it all up in their beautiful little brains. In traffic their watching you, at the grocery store their watching how you react to the people around you. If we keep ourselves tender, if we pull ourselves away from being so tough to the world around us we will look at the world a bit differently. Our children will start seeing us deal with others with kindess and tenderness and in turn they will, hopefully, do the same.

2) We must be open. A side effect of being tough is being closed off. We stop seeing what is around us.

It never fails when playing with legos. Little Junior will work so hard on building the perfect contraption. Sometimes it is a plane, sometime is it a double decker plane, but whatever it is it’s huge…and top heavy. Apparently we haven’t learned how this effects things but i’m hoping we will learn this lesson soon because a lot of tears are shed. He will be concentrated so hard on building and then i’ll hear it. A shatter across the wood floor. And then i’ll wait for it, and it always comes. A defeated sigh, the look of complete heartache in his eyes, and then the tears swell up. He’s defeated. Completely and utterly defeated.

No big deal, it’s just legos. Get over it, build it again. But if I stop for a minute and see how much of himself he poured into building that masterpiece i’ll see that it’s not just legos. If i’m open enough i’ll see that it meant something to him, he was proud of it, and now it’s destroyed.

So every time I go and I sit by him.

“I know you were working so hard on that. I know you are not happy that it all fell apart.” A nice long hug here will usually stop the tears. He realizes that I understand, that it is a big deal, that he is upset, that I am here…open.

I ask him if he knows how he put it together and if we can work to put it back how it was. A few wipes of snot on the sleeve and we’re back to building another masterpiece.

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3) Give them tools.

I wish it were as easy as going to the hardware store and loading up a tool box, but it isn’t. This part really depends on belief systems and what works for an individual. Trial and error play a big role with this part.

The good news: there are so many tools out there!

Tools can be anything. For one of our Rangers a hug is the best tool. When he’s frustraited, annoyed or just in a pissy mood recieving a little extra love will have him smiling in no time. In fact just yesterday he was in a less than happy mood. I asked him what was the matter. His response? “I just need some lovin”. He’s getting it.

For our other Ranger it’s talking. He’s one to keep things inside and when I realize something is bothering him we will sit down and talk and spend some one on one time together. He will walk away in a much lighter mood.

Religion is a huge tool. Whether it’s God, Brahman, HaShem, Allah, or Buddah. Having a higher power that can help you along your journey is an excellent tool and one that most find very comforting.

Meditation, yes even for children. This is a tool i’m trying to equip our boys with. There are many types of meditation and there are a lot geared towards children. Mostly it is guided imagary which can be very fun and very powerful. It fosters many things within them and I hope it will be something they keep growing because it will always be something they can reach for.

Herbs and suppliments.   Being a tender soul isn’t a flaw, it doesn’t need fixing. It may need a little tuning and adjusting, but it is a gift and doesn’t need cured. There are so many wonderful herbs and nutrition based diets to really help your body become balanced. These are wonderful for kids as they are gentle on their bodies and natural. Seek out someone experienced in working with children and herbs together for their advice.

So how do you raise a tender soul? I’m not sure any of us know. But I bet that if we ourselves stay tender and open and we are able to supply these beautiful children with tools to help them along on their lives journey, i think that is a great place to start.

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The problem with Childrens Organized Activities AKA ‘Organized Distractions’

I have this guilt. It’s a total mom guilt.

My kids aren’t in any Childrens organized activities. They don’t play organized sports. They aren’t in Church meetings. They don’t meet up in groups with other kids. It’s pretty much just the two of them…and us.

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I’ve searched down every avenue, asked anyone that would listen, and dug the deepest holes to try to find something that would be suitable for us. There just isn’t much in this small community, and the drive into town can be long.

We came from a large city that had just about anything you could think of. Martial arts, YMCA, sport teams, group play dates scattered around the city on just about any given day. It was easy to find organized activities.

So what’s wrong with childrens organized activities?  

What if their all just distractions.

These organized activities; sports, dance, playdates, meetings.

Maybe their all just distractions. Things to keep us busy. To keep us from thinking about the rent that is late, the car that needs new tires, the “i’m sorry” that needs said, the selfishness that needs addressing, the mask that needs peeled off.

What if we just BE. I mean really BE. Be in the moments, be here, be now, be calm, be still. Can you just imagine how life would float by? Calm like flowing water, hugging the crevice of each rock that it passed. Kissing the fallen trees and wet river banks. Lapping up leaves to bring with it on its journey.

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But instead we race. We race past the day as if we were sliding into home plate. We sprint towards the new activities while passing other opportunities along the way. But we don’t see them because we’re too rushed and too busy to even notice. Too distracted.

What if they are all distractions? To keep us preoccupied so we don’t have to think about the things we really need to address. The hurt, the pain, the sorrow, the mistakes. Even worse…what if it distracts us from love and joy. From acceptance. From peace.

Have you ever sat? Literally that is all you did was just sit. Nothing else, nothing more. No facebooking, no TV, no reading, no thinking. Just sitting. It’s love and joy. It’s acceptance. It’s peace.

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So I sit…accepting. Accepting that it’s ok if my sons aren’t in soccer camp. It’s ok they don’t go to group story time. It’s ok they think a group of kids “are being too loud”. It’s ok that I can’t find a playgroup for them to be apart of.

Their outside filling flower pots with water making mud pies. Their learning how to argue with each other and work through those problems. Their sitting in the branches of trees carving their hiking sticks. Their playing zombies in the garden and survivor man in the backyard. Their learning it is ok to be. They may not be sliding into home plate. But their learning their limits, their fears. Their learning what brings them joy and acceptance and peace.

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Does this mean we will we keep them out of childrens organized activities or groups? Absolutely not. But making myself mad trying to find groups to put them in will no longer be a priority. The longer we are quiet and still the more we can really soak up what life has deep within it. The Juniors will grow, they’ll find their place and their passions. And they will do this regardless of our input. Right now they are learning to be….

I am learning to be. 

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A Solution for Sibling Fights: Play Nice Cards

One of the great things about having kids is you can finally spin things in your direction.

All those chores you get tired of doing, you can make them into consequences for things such as wining and fighting. Genius right?

Hibernating during the winter is great, but we are spending all our time together. What a wonderful thing, until the fighting, arguing and tattling starts.

Lately there’s been quite a bit of fighting between the Juniors. From “he’s playing with my toy”…. “he won’t stop looking at me”….”he touched my toe”.

There is only so much parents can take before they snap and get creative.

After a day of arguing over which lego belongs to which boy, getting mad because the other one is wearing the others underwear, and having a fit because he took a drink of the other ones water. I’d had enough.  I went and grabbed a deck of cards and started scribbling all over them.

The boys were intrigued and by the end they thought it was a really fun game they were going to be playing.

The next time they started fighting they got to come a draw a card from the Play Nice Deck.

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So far things are working out quite nicely.

I wanted to do more then just busy work or chores. My goal was to have them do things together or do things to serve the other one. Things that will distract them long enough to forget why they were fighting and get them to work together. Kids, at least mine, have super short attention spans.

  • Build the other brother a lego master piece
  • Unload the dishwasher together
  • Make the other brothers bed
  • Pick up the other brothers dirty clothes
  • Sit next to each other quietly for 5 minutes
  • Sweep the floor or fireplace together
  • Take out the trash together
  • Draw an apology picture to the other brother
  • Pick up the other brothers toy
  • Pour each other a glass of water and do a ‘cheers’ together
  • Dance to one song together
  • Build a tower together
  • Go get 2 pieces of fire wood each
  • Put away the other brothers clean clothes
  • Hang up the other brothers Coat and shoes

We’ll be adding more activities as we think of them, but for now this is what we’ve came up with.

 


Halloween Activity: Popping Pumpkins and Ghosts

Here is another fun Halloween activity to do with the kidlets around the holiday or any other day for that matter.

Supplies

Ziplock bag
Baking soda
Vinegar
Toilet paper
Optional: food coloring and sharpie marker

 

Place a few tablespoons of baking soda onto the piece of toilet paper and fold it

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Place 1-2 cups of vinegar into zip lock bag that you’ve drawn a jack-o-lantern or a ghost face on.

Place a few drops of orange food dye into the pumpkin bag (we actually used jello to dye ours)

Go outside.

Hold the piece of paper with the baking soda in the bag without it touching the vinegar yet. Seal bag tightly.

Give to child and have them shake it up real good!

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If you’ve added enough ingredients to the bag you may get a nice little surprise POP….so watch out!

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A Letter to the Lazy Mom; you’re not alone.

Dear Lazy mom,

Yes you, the one sitting on the couch in your yoga pants at 4 in the afternoon with a cup of hot coffee, hair in a pony tail, and kids no where to be seen. You are the mirror image of me. And i tip my girly hat to you.

I see these other moms with their larger then life SUVs, their perfectly curled hair, and even strutting around a fresh coat of lipstick. Who are they and how do they have time for lipstick?! They wait in the line at the elementary school to pick up their herd to tote them off to the evening activities of McDonalds drive through, soccer practice, ballet recital, and PTA meetings. Smiles graze across their faces but if you look closer you’ll see it. It’s in the eyes. Underneath the layers of concealer and mascara is the exhaustion, the stress, the “i’m so tired i wish i was sitting on my couch in my Yoga pants”.

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You and I though, we’re not quite like the others. Some may call us lazy, but i call us Sane…but i use that word in the loosest of ways. The truth is, i value my time. My time to be ME. When i became a mother it changed me, but it didn’t define me. I am more then ‘just a mom’. I am a teacher, a mother, a friend, a wife, a daughter, an aunt, a sister and although I may not be the master, or even good at any of those identities, i know that i am all of those…not merely just one.

Just like you, I don’t want to be a slave to anyone…not even my children. I want to enjoy them, not be chained to them. If they must they can call us lazy, but it’s only becausewe refuse to make our schedules so tightly packed that we don’t even have time to stop and breathe.
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I’m sure being the lazy mom you’ve realized certain things. Just because your lazy does not mean that your kids have dirty clothes, your house is a mess, or the dishes are never done. Now i will admit that our beds are never made, and frankly the people who make their beds with their 12 throw pillows and blanket folded neatly at the bottom of the bed freak me out a little. But i’ve noticed my house to be actually cleaner when i’m lazy. Maybe it is because i get rid of more stuff because i don’t feel like putting it away, maybe it’s because i’m not so hell bent on having scrubbed floors (swept is good enough) that i have more time to do other things. I take 3 minutes to empty the dishwasher right before we head outside to go for a walk. I throw a load of laundry in the dryer before we go to bed. It may not get folded for another two days, but that’s ok with me. It’s not hard to be lazy AND clean.

Sometimes i do daydream about what it would be like to have the nicely manicured nails and the freshly highlighted hair. Sometimes i dream of being ‘that woman’. The fashionable clothes, the cute boots, the hair appointment once a month. Oh, Sigh. But i’m too lazy (and too cheap). I’d much rather have time to sit around with my family at night over dinner instead of rushing off to another appointment, another meeting or another Yoga class. My yoga pants work just as well at home as they do in a fancy studio next to the blonde bombshells with the cute little outfits and matching shades of lipgloss.

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You also let your children run free. Where are they now? Did you send them to their rooms to nap and now all you hear is the sounds of their voices whispering and creating some fantasy in their heads? Are they in the play room yelling at one other because they had that crayon first and you’re taking another sip of your coffee pretending that you don’t hear them and just waiting to see if they can manage to work this out between themselves? Is you’re dog scratching at the backdoor wanting inside but those 15 steps just aren’t enough to motivate you to get up and let him in? It’s nice outside, he should be happy he has a fenced in yard and should be enjoying the fresh air! Are you waiting until the last possible minute to start cooking supper before it’ll be bordering on bedtime snack and dinner all-in-one?

Ya, me neither.

I don’t know about you, but i enjoy not being busy. I do however enjoy being productive, but on my terms. If i feel like sitting down and taking a break…i do. If i feel like taking a walk…i do. If i feel like staying in Yoga pants all day long…you bet i do. And i enjoy it! I don’t feel bad about it all. I hope you don’t either. Nowhere in the mom manual did i read that you should be a slave to your home and family. It’s just not in there, trust me i looked.

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As you guessed it, i’m writing you this letter…in my yoga pants, on my couch, with a cup of tea. My kids are yelling at me from their bunkbeds wondering if it’s snack time, if it’s time to get up, if dad is home yet. I’m trying to convince them i am sleeping, i don’t think it’s working. I’m being lazy. I hope you are too, for you deserve to be, and should be.

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Please know that it’s ok to be lazy. It’s ok to not over do things, to rest, to listen to yourself and know when you’ve done enough. I’m listening to myself a lot lately and it seems i’ve spent years doing too much and now it’s ok to not do much at all. Please be proud of what you do. Love those children, read them stories, teach them things, care for them, be present. That is far greater of a gift you can give them then any activity.

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So i say to one lazy mom to another: Let lazy mean that we are simply reviving our energies, we are laid back, well rested, we are creatively inactive, we are living in the moment. We are doing just fine and rushing around doing it all will only rush the little time we have on this earth.

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Sincerly One Lazy mom to Another.

 

 

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