I hope it lingers

Things have changed and they remain the same. Looking back over the year, it is hard not be grateful for our health, our lives, that we continue taking one step more each day. The headlines were filled with the makings of nightmares. I am sure I'm not the only one that lingers longer with my children at bedtime. I can't be alone in my silent prayers when I pick up each child at school or in the sigh of relief I feel when the garage door opens signaling Steve's safe return. 

I looked back and I haven't done a thankful post each year, probably too caught up in the rushing and baking and ahhhhhhhh of it all. 

There is this from 2011 (actually scratch that, 2010!) and what babies they were! Connor on the brink of walking and becoming baby Godzilla. 

I teared up reading this one from 2007 just as I imagined I would when I wrote it six holidays ago. 

Time goes fast. Today I am thankful for today. We are so blessed in so many ways and I hope this thankful feeling carries through to the new year and beyond. Less stuff, more snuggles. Fewer dollars spent, more time given. Less about me, more about you. Less rush, more linger.

ice time S.O.S.

If you watched Connor playing for all of twenty minutes you would undoubtedly see him playing some variation of a sport. He frequently tosses a football into the air and races to catch it himself, "Gronk makes the catch!" said quietly to himself as he does his own play by play. (it's very cute to watch, but don't let on that you are listening!) He shoots baskets at the closet door hoop we put up two Christmases ago. We had to take away his golf clubs because he was driving small balls into people and breakable objects with such force and precision that we had no choice. He drags the two knee hockey goals into the center of the floor, dumps all the tiny wiffle balls out and shoots endlessly on both nets. He begs Daddy to do "batting practice." He amuses passerby at BC tailgates with his non-stop punting, throwing, and catching. He is a physical kid. Period.

We thought it was a no brainer that it was his turn for the town's "Learn to Hockey" program this year. Steve and I alternated watching Caroline last year because one of us had to be constantly amusing Connor with his knee hockey sticks. He seemed excited, he appeared ready, we took him to a public skate at the same arena as the Learn To program and he even seemed excited about hockey.

It was a downhill slide from the moment his skates hit the ice on Week 1. He could stand up, but he participated passively and then made his way ever so slowly across the ice to the door and off he came. Last week during the second week, he screamed so loud that the director asked him to take a break. They don't encourage the kids to get off the ice. Ever. I boosted, I encouraged, I begged, I commanded. He dropped his gloves from his hands and stared me down.

We tried to give him some confidence and brought the whole family to another local public skate the following day and the kid was racing around, "no, don't help me" and "I don't want to be done." I spent the week reinforcing hockey on Saturday and having a good attitude, participating, and having fun. We held our collective breath as he stepped out on the ice this morning and he stood there, refusing to skate, stoic, determined, and poised for a quick exit from the ice. The singular positive is that he did not cry. I again tried to convince him to get out there, to show the coaches he COULD actually skate, to encourage and he again hit us with 'No" and "I don't want to." The kid who plays hockey non-stop, the one who is sitting beside Steve at this very moment watching the Bruins game asking endless questions, that kid does not want to play?

We don't get it. We don't understand it. He isn't too young. He isn't struggling to skate. He is interested in hockey. He wants to score goals. He just flat out refuses to participate and it is making us both UTTERLY insane. Are we bad parents if we push him through whatever is stopping him from going for it? or are we bad parents if we let it go and sit him down? We are stuck in this terrible grey spot where there is no right answer. Half the parents there judge us because we don't stick him out and walk away letting him scream his head off if he wants, but STAY ON THE ICE. The other half look at us and think we are pushing too hard. It is an epic battle of wills and he is proving to be the most willful of us all. That's a pretty hard task, but he is excelling at willfulness.

What's the right move here???

burden and beauty

I have shared here before that Caroline has required an extra nudge to do many things, including tying her shoes, eating green vegetables, and unfortunately reading and writing. We seem to have finally achieved that magical place between her needing to gain these important academic skills and her possessing the motivation and enthusiasm to do so. She has been devouring books in huge gulps and I can barely keep her stocked with things at her independent level. I found an amazing little bookmark timer that she delights in using. She snuggles into bed with Connor at bedtime and SHE reads him a book. She often struggles a bit with words she has not totally mastered, but feels like such a big girl. We have been so incredibly impressed with the strides she has taken since September.

She is Caroline. She lacks self confidence in so many ways, constantly teetering on the edge. Unless she knows with certainty she can do it herself independently and successfully, she often chooses just not to do it and that is where our dilemma begins and ends. She cannot read without practice, she cannot practice without mistakes, she cannot cope with mistakes. She wears her whole heart on her sleeve.

Something happened recently and she was trying to read the words on something and we corrected her and to be honest, I can't even remember what she was trying to read at the time. It didn't seem like a big deal, but suddenly she fell apart. "I thought I was going to be the smart one."

Silence. Tears. I didn't even know what to say in that moment.


I reassured, "you are smart."
I validated, "It must be so hard to think you read it correctly and have a grown up tell you that you didn't."
I reinforced, "This is something we need to practice together and I am going to be right here practicing with you as long as it takes."

She has an amazing imagination. She makes up songs while she is working on a project or her homework. She has such enthusiasm for her world that I am often yelling across the yard not because she is doing something wrong, but that she is just so happy that the entire neighborhood can hear her gleeful shrieks. I know that these new skills she is mastering will open entire new worlds of her imagination. Writing stories, illustrating sentences.

This is the hard time, except it isn't.  I keep telling myself she will focus and learn and meet expectations, that it will be okay and then THEN we can relax.

There will never be relaxing, just more to learn, more she doesn't know, and that is both the burden and the beauty of it all.