Monday, March 28, 2011

Driving Mr. Isaac

It's Spring Break for Booder.

Daddy surprised him by taking the day off to spend with him.  They've been playing cars, doing puzzles, and vegging on the couch watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  The conversations and glances have been sparse, but it's about the quality time today.  They are both getting full tanks.

And speaking of full tanks, this upcoming month, Daddy and Mommy are planning on getting a new family vehicle.  It's been an adventure to say the least.  Yesterday we took the boys up to a few car lots by our house (we live a few minutes from something in our area called the "auto mile"--dealerships of every kind in a one mile expanse--it's like a candy shop for big kids)  Everything was closed, and that's how we like it.  No hassles, no salespeople, and the boys were able to give us their opinions as we walked around as a family.

We found a few top choices.  (Ethan picked a metallic blue sporty looking Volvo and told us, "Mom, we could fit if we squeezed in...")  As Dan and I discussed options, thought through fuel economy, and got real with downsizing, Isaac was simply enjoying the view from the backseat of a Subaru Forester.  I found myself watching him in the rear view mirror of our test vehicle.  I realized, the scenery wasn't anything new (we were only a few minutes from our home) but it was from a new perspective.   

It's amazing what a fresh perspective can do, isn't it?  When we have seen something the same way for so long, it only takes another look to see it in a different way; to appreciate it with new eyes.

Let's RIDE.
We didn't make a concrete decision on a new vehicle today, but we definitely got some great ideas and narrowed down our choices.  As for Isaac, I think he'll enjoy testing some more "perspectives" in the weeks ahead.  As long as there's a booster seat and a juice box involved.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My little green BFF

He's small.  He's green.  He's not a dinosaur...not a dragon.  A little stuffed friend Isaac can't let go of.  He calls him Yoshi. 

My kids have never been attached to much.  They've never had blankies or animals that they've HAD to have.  For some reason, lately, Yoshi has become more than an attachment.  He's become a best friend.

The little creature isn't much to look at, his little neck already worn out from all the hugs and playtime.  Isaac enjoys regaling his little pal with stories of his day when he gets home from school.  "Yoshi, what did YOU do at school today?"  He often plays make-believe with this green guy, involving him in everything from construction site challenges to adventures with other stuffed animals in his big brother Ethan's room, making the little high pitched voice.  I have learned to use Yoshi's friendship with Isaac as a motivational tool when it's time to do his work tasks.  When he does something correctly, he gets a hug and kiss from Yoshi.  I've never seen a child more proud.

He tried to take Yoshi into the bath with him saying "Yoshi needs to get clean too!"  (We put him through the wash instead.)  Isaac likes to make sure Yoshi is tucked into a soft blanket on his bookshelf at night before bed.  He has to make sure Yoshi's big bulging eyes are looking at him in his own bed before I turn out the light (and Isaac is always smiling at him when I do this.) 

I'm not sure what it is about this Yoshi character that draws Isaac so much.  He simply adores him--no matter what he looks like, feels like, or how lifeless he is.  His love and friendship IS the life in Yoshi. 

The creativity and adoration I see with Isaac's little BFF amazes me daily.  I can only hope that one day a real, living, breathing, boy or girl will let Isaac be that same level of committed friend I see him as now. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shout, shout, let it all out!

Once in a great while, there is an outburst.  An unexpected display of emotion: Overflowing, spewing out like a volcano, covering the scene like a heavy cloud of ash. 

Yesterday it happened. 

Maybe a combination of Dan traveling and being gone this week along with a change in the time and phasing out an afternoon's all been a little stressful for everyone.  I tend to bury my stress, and carry it directly in the muscles on my shoulders (seriously, you should FEEL these knots...).  Isaac tends to let it all out at once. 

The boys and I were in the kitchen.  We had just picked Ethan up from school and Isaac went to the refrigerator.  We're working on asking before taking, but Isaac is trying to be independent and forgets.  After all, he's thirsty.  It makes sense:  go get juice and pour it yourself.  But, learning to ask and be willing to hear "no, not right now" is something he doesn't want to do or hear.  So he skips asking altogether.

In a second, I see him in the corner of my eye and I quietly say, "Isaac, no juice right now, buddy.  You just had a juice box."  Like a firecracker, he grabs the shelf on the inside door of the fridge to slam it shut.  He rips the shelf guard off and out pours glass bottles of condiments.  We watch in slow motion as they tumble and slam and break on the floor.

I immediately respond negatively.  Not to the spill, but to his attitude in response to me telling him no.  But, he doesn't get this.  "Isaac, no!  Mommy said No!"  He puts his hands to his face, sobbing. Hyperventilating starts as I clean up the mess asking him to help.  He screams in my face, with the little breath he has, at the top of his lungs at an octave that physically stings my ear drums.    At this point, Ethan joins in.  He is frustrated at Isaac's crying.  He marches upstairs crying, saying, "I don't like when he DOES that!"  This makes Isaac even more disturbed.  He greatly dislikes when Ethan is emotional.  It's like they feed off of one another. 

I am shocked.  Isaac keeps screaming and hyperventilating as I wipe his face from tears.  I softly speak to him, hold him in my arms.  He screams and grits his teeth while burying his hot, red face in my shoulder.  What went wrong, I think to myself?  I was just trying to instruct my child...and it has blow up, literally, in my face.  What comes to mind at that moment was a phrase I heard at my study of King David's life from the Old Testament..."We are all one catastrophe away from losing it..."  How true that is. 

After awhile, calming commenced (after I talked with both boys and held them and made silly faces).  I'm not sure what went on in Isaac's mind, but it's obvious he was unable to tell me what was wrong or how he felt.  I was left in the aftermath to dissect the situation...

Ultimately, I determined this:  We all have rough days and moments of incapacitating frustration; and sometimes it's just better to get it out.  I wish I could scream whenever the moment got to be too much, or when I don't get the answer I want to hear. I'm an adult, and I've trained myself to hold my emotions at bay--keeping them hidden until I deem the "proper" time; writing feverishly in my journal, punching my pillow, or crying out to God while I play at the piano.  Isaac has no guard, no filter when it comes to dealing with emotion and expressing it.  THIS is the way he knows how to deal.  THIS is the way he gets it out, and I'd rather him get it out than keep it in or ignore his feelings completely.

Volcanoes happen.  Outbursts are a fact of life.  My job is to let peace rule, even through instruction and discipline.  It's a fine line, and sometimes I won't always get it right.  But I keep trying, keep praying for grace and strength, and preparing my mind and heart for the explosion.

Psalm 119:71  It was good that I had to suffer in order to learn your laws
Psalm 119:76  Now let your unfailing love comfort me...

 What a promise...what a result. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Paper Jellyfish

Today, Isaac brought home a jellyfish.

Not a real one, per se, but a handmade purple and yellow and blue jellyfish.  He was so proud of his creation. 

As we looked at his construction paper and crepe creature, we talked about other animals that live in the sea (this is the topic in his preschool class).  "And the whales have a blowhole on top of their head!"  He said while lightly bouncing on his tiptoes, one foot, back to the other...very gracefully.  I look at him and smile.  "What if the whale sneezes?  He's gonna need a really BIG tissue to blow his nose!"  More tiptoeing, more laughing.

Isaac started running up and down our long kitchen, watching the crepe tentacles on his jellyfish flutter behind him.  I watched and started thinking about how much this boy and his jellyfish have in common. 

Jellyfish are mysterious, yet, you can literally see right through them. Some have the most amazing colors on earth and are absolutely unique. You can't help but watch them, sometimes out of curiosity, sometimes out of shear awe. I found myself doing that very thing to Isaac just then;  the colors of his world are brilliant and inspiring.  

Jellyfish don't have much of an ability to swim far on their own strength.  They rely on the currents of the oceans and waters they live in to help them get from place to place.  Isaac needs the currents of love and support of those around him to help him get where he's destined to go. 

Of course, jellyfish can sting.  Their marks can be a painful reminder that they mean business.  Of course, Isaac doesn't sting, but the challenge of helping others to see the brilliant colors that I see in him, or to help him move from one place to the next can leave a painful stripe on our psyches.  I'm still glad he has a knowledge of self-preservation from the likes of those who may not respect what or who he is.  That's what I'm hoping to continue to reinforce. 

Psalm 139:14 says, "I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know this full well." 

This is truth.  Isaac is made wonderfully, and I am in awe of him.  I can watch as he spins in circles, laughing with that paper jellyfish, but I know full well that nothing else that God designed compares to my son.  Just as Isaac was so excited to show me his creation this afternoon, I like to picture Isaac's Creator just as excited to remind me of my son's beauty.  He is unique, he is purposed, and he is just right.  And it's so good to be reminded...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Toilet teacher

There's this really handsome, talented, selfless man that I live with.  We share a bed, a cramped closet, hopes, a stubborn attitude, love of laughter, 2 sons, and a heart.  My husband is wonderful.  We make a great team.  (And we clean up pretty nicely, if I say so myself.)

After months of working late in a very busy season of Dan's career (which has been hard on all of us), I love seeing the warm welcome he gets at the door.  Sometimes, Ethan is busy playing, watching something on the computer, or sidetracked to notice that Dad came home.  But this never gets past Isaac.  He has a Spidey-sense when it comes to knowing the moment of Daddy's arrival.  He hears the faint click of the kitchen door opening...and, like a gun shot, he's gone, running to Dan. 

"I want to give Daddy a BIG SQUEEZE and a BIG KISS!"  Isaac says.  Dan soaks it up like a dried sponge. 

The other evening, Isaac was using the bathroom off of our kitchen when Dan came in the door.  As usual, he set his computer and bag at the door and took off his coat.  Isaac flings open the bathroom door so we could see his little legs dangling as he sat.  "Hi Daddy!  I'm going potty." Dan smiled and said, "Okay, buddy, finish up and you can come out and say hi."  I snagged this opportunity to give Dan the welcome home hug he usually gets from Isaac...of course, I gave him a kiss too.  A Mommy kiss...and those are very different than an Isaac kiss.

Isaac still hadn't closed the bathroom door; his little face and eyes peeking at us as we showered one another with affection.  After we had hugged for what didn't seem like long enough...we heard Isaac's voice announce.  "Daddy, you love Mommy"  Dan nodded enthusiastically, "Oh yes, Daddy loves Mommy."  Isaac looked at me next.  "Mommy, you love Daddy TOO!"  I responded with the same phrase Dan used. 

In a weird way, it was as if we were taking our vows again in the middle of the kitchen--only, our Officiator was using the funny-- 2 taboos came together to create a great teaching moment:  PDA's and using the bathroom with the door open. 

Isaac doesn't get embarrassed easily, and he's taught me to do the same.  When it comes to questions of love and life, he gets right to the core.  He knows how to show affection, but being able to let him see Mom and Dad showing affection was a valuable lesson--one that not enough parents are brave enough, or candid enough to share with their children. 

Mommies and Daddies love.  Isaac's position (even if it's on a toilet seat) is TOTALLY right on.