Friday, November 11, 2011

radical parenting

I've noticed this wave lately of what I'm calling "radical parenting," at least among the people I know. Maybe they've always been this way, and I'm just the one catching up. I don't know. But the idea is very simple: the parents are the parents. The kids are the kids. The kids will be respectful and obey, or there will be consequences. And the kids will also learn how to live with much less of the stuff they think they can't live without.

A friend of mine from church has recently taken away all screen time during the work week. They may watch tv and play on the computer on the weekends.

Another friend of mine online doesn't have a microwave.

These are the only two concrete examples I can think of at the moment, but they form a theme. Kids do not REQUIRE screen time. An attitude of "I must have my chicken nuggets in 30 seconds or I'll explode" is simply unnecessary and untrue.

They're things that I've noticed are EXTREMELY scary at first, to think about, but then afterward...not really a big deal.

In our house, we also no longer have a microwave. Not actually because I was taking a giant stand against instant gratification, but that is a giant side-benefit. It was actually because 1) our microwave was starting to get old and the display unreadable and 2) because it looked hideous sitting up on top of my newly-acquired old farmhouse cabinet. (My microwave was BIG.) But when I used to think about getting rid of it, I'd always say, "oh, no. That's not for us. Maybe someday, but not yet. I have toddlers. They require chicken nuggets and hot dogs. And I have leftovers."

And can I tell you? It was honestly DAYS before my children noticed it was gone!!!!!! I'm not kidding. Because, it turns out, we don't have that many leftovers (hubby takes them with him to work the next day, and I only make enough for dinner and his lunch). And my kids were almost never in the kitchen while I made the chicken nuggets or hot dogs, so I would make them in the oven or on the stove and they'd never know it. I honestly think it was at some point where Miss 8yo said, "well, can you just warm them up in the microwave?" and I said, "no." She asked why, and I said, "because we don't have the microwave anymore." And she actually said, "yeah, we do -- wait, what?? Where'd the microwave go??"

And that was that. I explained the principle of cooking on the stove and in the oven, and although it wasn't received the same way a new puppy would be, they've gotten over it, and I've only heard a few comments since. (Miss 8yo's biggest grievance is that the ONLY way she likes eggs is from the microwave. Oh well.)

I haven't been as brave with the screen time. However, today I shortened their screen time from an hour a day to a half hour a day. I only got one complaint as I said it. (It might have been an inspired idea that I told them while they were lost in the tv. I did make them answer me, though. Oddly enough, the only one who answered me was the one ON the computer at the time. Weird.)

Now I'm moving on to an issue that has plagued me for months, and that is the issue of SNACKAGE.

I buy things like granola bars and Cheez-its and cheese crackers. A side issue may actually be that they're growing big enough now that one of these items - the current allowance - is no longer enough to satiate them during any particular snack time. (Miss 13yo especially. I recognize that. I'm trying to think about that separately and allow for it.) Another side issue is that my boys wake up very early in the morning, and are hungry immediately, but I'm busy making Hub's breakfast, and thus the rule is that I will feed them when I'm done with that. So, in the meantime, I've let them have one of said snacks.

So, in one day, one normal day (when Miss 13yo isn't home from school), there should be roughly maybe 7 snacks being eaten. (It's a rough estimate, allowing for whether or not Mr. 2yo has one of those snacks which he doesn't always, and the before-breakfast snacks.) So one would think that if I buy 20-something snacks in a grocery trip, they should last us several days. Right?

Clearly there's a pilferer among them. Because it's way too easy to reach into the snack drawer quietly when Mom's not in the kitchen. (This was an idea I came up with so I didn't have to constantly get up to get them a snack at the time. This idea may be revisited.) And we're going through so many snacks, it isn't funny. Nevermind the days when Miss 13yo is home. And hungry. And could probably eat something close to a meal at every sitting. (Those teenage appetites, even budding ones, can be scary. I'm so grateful every day that my boys aren't there yet. I'll need to figure out how to make more money by then.)

So I need a solution. I need ideas of snacks the kids can have that will actually fill them, and some way to keep them from just grabbing one whenever they feel like it, or whenever I'm not around.

I had one thought - ah ha! Buy snacks they don't like! Well...for about 1/32nd of a second it seemed like a good idea, but with further investigation, proves itself to be a bad idea. Because they won't eat them, and I'll have to listen to it. (Not to mention wasted food.)

But I think I have landed upon an acutally feasible idea. Buy foods that they like, that are good for them, and filling, but not necessarily the ones they'd go for FIRST. These would be foods like apples, bananas, raisins, etc. This way they are healthy, filling, and will be eaten ONLY if they are ACTUALLY hungry, and not just because they want the chocolate chips out of the chocolate chip granola bars.

Anyone tried this? Thoughts? I may try it. :)

Just another step in the radical parenting process. Another attempt at creating less.

Monday, November 7, 2011


"You carry me. You lift me up. You raise me."

I've heard these words a thousand times and they seem very boring now. Empty and meaningless. Rote in the day to day. How do those words help me with the apple juice spilled in the very dark corner where it's hard to get to without unpacking the entire room that I should have cleaned before my son decided not to finish the juice he poured, leaving it for the two-year-old to knock over?!?!

God defines the words for me as I listen to the song again.*

You lift me up - from that which I'm having trouble treading
When I am weak - I'm failing
Your arms wrap around me - you comfort and console me, not encourage me to keep going
Your love carries me - you do the work for me
So I'm letting go - so I can stop struggling and trying and wriggling and beating my head against a wall and trying to continue finding the solution on my own, and just let myself
be carried,
be still,

*song taken from "Lift Me Up" by The Afters.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

grace and mercy

This grace, it's a funny thing.

It wasn't grace because I did something good. It wasn't grace because I was the bigger person and humbled myself to make the connection.

I came to the computer, gave Hubby his information, and then got lost in other words of grace. (That music doesn't play fair, by the way. It's mesmerizing.)

And so I sat, checking the clock from time to time...

"If I went up now, we'd have just enough time..."

But I don't. I don't go up to reconnect, to patch things up, to make ammends, to cut her slack. I let her sit upstairs. And I let me sit downstairs. (Any other time I might say I was hiding. This time I'm in plain view.)

I should've gone up. Things might've worked out. They might not've. I figured that would be the grace, that she decline my invitation, say she's more in the mood to read now, and we leave it good.

But no.

She comes down early, announces she's done, and that she's going to bed, because I'm on the computer, despite the deal that she'd get the computer when she's done.
I reiterate the deal, saying I'm only here waiting for her, she can have it... We discuss, she decides to go to bed anyway.


Here I am. A quiet night. Facebook/Pinterest/Blogger at my beck and call.

But I wasn't the bigger person. I didn't take the first step.

Is this grace anyway, the getting of something we don't deserve?

Or is this mercy, the lack of getting something we do?