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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wurs Enemy

When I was in 4th grade (about 20 years ago) my biggest concern was being the fastest kid on the playground (I totally wasn't and gave up on that dream for more realistic goals like getting to the monkey bars first). 

So imagine my surprise when my 4th grade daughter (last year) asked these questions...

  1. What does rape mean?
  2. The girls in my class sit on the boys on the playground and move around and say they are having sex.  Is that what sex is?
  3. What is a slut? The boys in my class keep calling me that.
  4. What's a condom? A boy in my class told me he didn't use a condom so he's worried.
So here I was, having to explain these things to my 10 year old to ensure she heard the truth about these things and not what a bunch of other 10 year olds were saying.

Would you say I was all that shocked when she came home half way through the year with a 'secret' boyfriend? (not so secret because I may not be the best parent, but I can still see when she's lying or hiding something)

No, I was not surprised.  I was disappointed that she hadn't talked to us about it before it happened, but not surprised.  So again, Justin and I were having to talk to our 10 year old about things she should not have to be dealing with yet.  After we talked about it, she decided she should break up with the kid.

Before you judge us to harshly about letting are obviously way-to-young-to-date daughter make this choice you have to understand something.  She is a stubborn kid. We knew that if we 'forced' her to do it she would just do what she wanted anyway and then hide more from us instead of feeling comfortable to talk to us about stuff...even stuff she knows we don't approve of.  So although this could have ended in her deciding to keep her boyfriend, at least she knew she could come talk to us about this sort of thing.  And from that point on she has, but OH BOY is hard to stay calm sometimes.

So, here we are.  Our 10 year old daughter is breaking up with her first boyfriend.  It seemed to go well.  They wanted to remain 'friends'.  However, HIS friends were not as understanding.  Slowly over the next few months they would begin to spread nasty rumors.  They were saying increasingly hurtful things and getting more and more people to gang up on her.  She was being ostracized by most of her class and we could see the impact it was having on all the other areas of her life.  She was not doing a good job processing these feelings and things were happening...
  1. Outbursts of rage and yelling at teachers
  2. Cussing like a sailor's parrot (because she'd only repeat things she heard from school that she usually had no idea the meaning of)
  3. Picking on her siblings just to get a reaction
  4. Digging her nails into her skin until it bled
My poor, innocent, 10 year old girl was dealing with the nastiness that is the world and nobody was doing anything about it (obviously Justin and I were aware and trying to talk her through it).  Every conversation with teachers/principal ended with a "we will get the kids together to talk out their problems".  That was it.  They would sit for a few minutes and each side would tell their side of the story and were expected to just move on.  These kids attacking her had all the 'right' things to say during those conversations so nothing ever happened.

FINALLY, my now 11 year old snapped.  She wrote this letter...


Dear Carlos, 
Hey, the reason I am writing this is because you and most of your friends are idiots like you. I wish you were never born and you were the biggest mistake I ever made. By the way, I already found some one. Tell Araya that she led and that we are just good friends now.
Worst Enemy (aka ex)
Taylor

Now there is written proof that obviously Taylor is to blame for everything.  Obviously, she's the one causing all the problems and being mean to these kids. Obviously. (In case you didn't pick up on it, that was sarcasm).

YES we know she did not handle things correctly.  She should NOT have sent that letter and we told her that.  But deep down I am sort of furious.  These people are supposed to PROTECT our children, but here we are with the 'victim' getting the blame.  Taylor is by no means innocent in all of this. I know that. I'm realistic.  But how can we expect a now 11 year old girl to process all of this stuff that she is not mentally ready for?  How can we not take her concerns seriously?  Even if she was just flat out lying (which she isn't - exaggerating is likely, but not lying) is it not worth these adult's time to understand the heart of the issue?

I'm not saying it is their fault that she wrote this letter. But I am saying they are surely not helping resolve the issues so she's doing it the only way her immature brain can think of.

Monday, February 5, 2018

That Time Team Davis Fell Apart


As Justin and I stand on the stage of an empty sanctuary practicing the worship set for the morning I glance at the pews.  I see 4 awesome kids huddled together, sitting quietly and calmly.  I glance down the aisle and see 3 other kids – one sitting inside a hoodie (like it’s a sled) with his 2 siblings using the sleeves to pull him full speed down the aisle as they laugh uncontrollably through squeals of delight.  The 2nd set of kids are my kids.  My 3 bundles of pure energy. I look at the differences in these two sets of children as a direct reflection of my parenting and translated it to a failure in parenting.  Why can’t my kids just sit still and keep quiet?

I had given up on trying to force it.  It always ended in a crying mess on both sides.  They do sometimes manage to do the “quiet” thing, but more often they are balls of chaos. Well... what I considered chaos. 

However, over the last year I’ve realized more and more they are just “living life”.  This revelation was inspired by our Children’s Director at Church (the amazing Sara Hughes).  She lives her life AND more importantly (to me at least) she helps my kids do the same.  She encourages them to be creative in their learning with plays they create to demonstrate the lessons they learn.  She has parties filled with food and confetti cannons.  She finds reasons to celebrate life and the craziness of what life can throw at you.  She meets them where they are just like Paul explains in 1 Corinthians Chapter 9.

I admire Sara and her ability to do this.  I am very much NOT that person. I’m an over-planner.  I need to think 10 steps ahead of my next 50 steps.  I over-organize things in order to feel some sense of control.  And sometimes, God likes to remind me what little control I have.
Then comes the real reason for this blog…I’m talking about that week(ish) in December…that week where God was like, “Oh, so you think you have everything under control? You think you have ANY say on what will happen tomorrow?” ::insert Godly giggle…well probably bellowing laughter…I assume God doesn’t giggle::

On Saturday morning Elijah comes into my room and says his tummy itches. He lifts his shirt to reveal a small patch of tiny red dots.  It looks like a mild skin irritation, so I tell him to take a shower to get clean and I’ll put some cream on it to help with the itch.  Problem solved.  Then that evening he complains again and reveals that small spot has spread rapidly up and around his side and back so to Urgent Care we go.  A 3 hour wait and we find out he has shingles. Not the worst case scenario so we move on with life.

Shingles.

Fast forward 4 days.  That amazing Sara lady I mentioned earlier walks into our Youth Group (where Justin and I are) and tells me Taylor was hurt and, in a VERY Taylor fashion, is letting the whole world know that her life was ending.  I walk down to get her and assume her tears are her typical over-exaggeration, but after a few minutes I realize she may actually be hurt.  So, another ride to Urgent Care (shout out to Tommy here for being willing to get the rest of my family home that night).  And we shortly find out her hand is broken AND it’s her dominant hand.

Shingles. Broken Hand.

Fast forward 5 days.  Jordan is outside happily enjoying the warm evening (and yes it was December and like 70 degrees outside at 5pm).  I’m inside cooking dinner with the other two and Justin is out studying (or maybe writing a paper) for finals.  I hear Jordan walking up the stairs crying.  I hear her open our storage room door and put away her pogo stick.  I hear her open the front door and I walk into the living room to see her clutching her chin with blood oozing from her fingers.  I calmly (calm on the outside, but inside hyperventilating) walked her to the sink to rinse off and quickly realized that the massive gash in her chin was in need of more than a bandaid.  So, I call Justin and tell him to hurry home, now! And tell Taylor she is in charge for 10 minutes until dad gets home.  Now I’m stressing about the amount of blood leaving one child’s face and the fact that Taylor was about to ‘babysit’ her brother for the first time.  I was almost certain that in those 10 minutes Justin would come home to the house on fire.  And so I sit, in Urgent Care once again.  Jordan needs 10 stiches.  She takes it like a champ…I almost pass out twice.

Shingles. Broken Hand. Stiches.

9 days later Justin gets a cell tumor removed from his hand (his dominant hand and more importantly his strumming hand) 4 days before our Christmas Eve services at church.  The tumor removal was more invasive than they anticipated so even now (over a month later) it is still bothers him sometimes.

Shingles. Broken Hand. Stiches. Hand Surgery.

Add to that I was 8 months pregnant and due “any day”.

Now, as Justin can attest, any one of these things would typically send me into stress overload.  Unplanned events creeping in and causing my perfectly organized schedule to become a mess.  But for some reason (probably for only the 5th time in my life) shrugged it off and thought, “Why not? What’s next?”  At some point I just decided to giggle/laugh right along with God as I realized I have absolutely no control.  Silly me for thinking otherwise. And here we are a month later back to our chaotic, crazy, normal.





Wednesday, November 8, 2017

We are Bad Parents

MOST nights you will find Team Davis eating dinner together around the dinner table.  Granted, this has lately involved me laying on the couch with my feet up looking at the dinner table trying to reduce the size of my preggo feet.  

There are a few rules around the table:

  • NO electronics or toys – purely family time and conversation 
  • NO getting up without asking to be excused (which at the end of the meal includes a “thank you” to whoever made or bought the meal) 
  • LISTEN when others are talking and do not talk over them
For the most part, the kids (and the parents) do a pretty good job at the rule following.  Most dinners also involve a “Best Part/Worst Part of Day” or as some people call it “the highs/lows”.  During one of these conversations Taylor was expressing her frustrations around a particularly difficult day and that all their friends tell them they have “bad parents”.   Her face quickly showed the fear of repeating such a statement and you could see that she was certain there would be some consequence for calling us “bad”.  Instead I smiled…

Me: That’s great! I’m glad your friends think I’m a bad mom

Jordan: Doesn’t it make you angry that they call you bad?

Me: Nope! You talk about these kids all the time (note: these kids are particularly mean, bullying, selfish, spiteful children) – I don’t want to be the kind of mom they think is “good”.

Taylor: They say you are bad because you don’t let us have our own smart phones and that you won’t let us get on youtube by ourselves or search Google whenever we want.

Me: Exactly! I’ll proudly take the title of “Bad Mommy” if protecting you, loving you, and raising you the way God has called me to is “bad”.

This got me thinking about John 15:17-19

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Let me define “world”.  By “world” I mean anyone that is not a Christian (defining Christian well would take another 5 pages so I’m going to skip that for now).  In other words, the “world” hated Christ.  Because we have surrendered our lives to live the way Christ has called us, they therefore hate us.

My kids deal with the “hate” of the world on a daily basis.  From being picked on because they follow the rules (as Taylor puts it “you can only be in the ‘cool’ group at school if you do stuff that is bad and makes the teachers angry) to being nice to those that are being excluded (Taylor talking to the girl in her class with the yellow teeth and bad breath that everyone makes fun of).  It’s hard for them.  It’s hard for us (Justin and I) to listen our kids nearly daily express their hurt around being called names, being ostracized, and being physically attacked on occasion because they are being raised to do the RIGHT thing.  To add to that they are picked on because of the choices their parents are making to protect them from the “world”. 

I want to clarify what I mean by “protect them from the world”.

Living in the World is NOT bad. Our entire lives my kids will be surrounded by the “world”.  That is not bad.  In fact, we are called (as Christians) to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) We are expected to live in the “world” surrounded by those that are not Christians and that is not a bad thing at all. My kids are encouraged to talk to us about things they are unfamiliar with or things they hear that seem to contrary to what we believe.  Like when my 4th grader comes home and asks about why her friends are talking about how they have sex already.  She asks what that means. Then in 5th grade she asks why they do it if they aren’t married (or at least they say they are doing it) when we have taught her that sex is for marriage.  We don’t’ shy away from these conversations, we have them, we encourage them.  We explain the biblical principles behind them so, when it comes time, they can make her own educated choices based on biblical principles.

We do NOT expose them to things in the world that will CAUSE them to sin.  This can mean different things to different people.  This can even be different depending on which of my kids we are talking about.  They all struggle with their own things.  For us this means things like making sure all “Google” searches are done with a parent nearby because even the most innocent of searches can return something like pornographic images/sites (which are a sin).  This means things like not allowing my 10 year old to have a cell phone because she is still learning to stand up for herself (learning to say NO to peer pressure) and she tells me about the things she has seen on friends phones (yes, 4th graders are sending penis pictures to each other, using group chats to bully each other, encouraging each other to steal some cash from their parents, and so on).

We expect them to LOVE the world. We also explain to them we are called to love the world.  That we, as Christians, are no better than the world.  That we ALL deserve hell.  That the only difference between “us” and “them” is that we have realized our brokenness and made the decision to be a Christian (again this is a complicated definition that I will not get into now).  That doesn’t make us better.  And because of that we should LOVE everyone like God loves us, Christian or not.  It means that just because somebody might be living a life of sin, doesn’t mean we get to be mean to them or disrespect them.

So, what is the point of this post?! That’s a great question.\

The point is that I’m proud to be a ‘bad mommy’.  I’m proud of my kids for repeatedly going against the “flow” of the world and standing strong in their beliefs.  I’m proud to say the world hates me because I refuse to live like those in the world (YES I make mistakes – I’m not perfect). I proud to admit that we will not shy away from difficult conversations with our kids about sex, drugs, and rock and roll because it could be uncomfortable. If the world hates me for doing the right thing, then I’m doing something right (if a murderer hates you for telling him murder is wrong… that’s a good thing).

BUT it sucks.  Having a child call me names like “bad mommy” doesn’t bother me one bit, but for my kids it can be devastating.  It sucks that I know it will never really get easier – that their entire lives they will be ‘hated’.  But, we (as Christian parents) can encourage them that pleasing the Lord is worth more than pleasing the world.  That in the end, all the hate we experience towards us will be worth it.