Monday, October 25, 2010

Lullabies Aren't Just For Babies

When my kids were babies I used to rock them to sleep while singing lullabies.  It didn't matter if they fell asleep after the first or second song because most nights I would just continue singing until the CD finished.  It was a time when I could sit for an hour doing nothing but rocking and listening to the sweet sound of my baby's breath.  I remember the stillness of the nursery and how nothing in the outside world mattered.

My boys still listen to their lullaby CD's.  Not every night, but the lullabies are in the CD rotation right next to the Curious George soundtrack, Skippyjon Jones stories, Captain Banjo ukulele music and other favorites.  Some nights when Nicholas or Christopher is having a hard time falling sleep I will play a lullaby CD, lay with him in bed and sing some songs as I listen to the sweet sound of my now little boy's breath.  Nicholas usually asks if we can move to the glider chair and rock back and forth while we listen to the Suo Gan (old Welsh) or Waltzing Matilda (Australian) songs from Susie Tallman's Lullabies for Sleepy Eyes CD.   Unfortunately, the rocking chair doesn't work too well anymore since Nicholas is getting so tall and lanky.  We barely fit together.  How I wish I could rock him to sleep and get back just a moment of those nights when he fit in my arms.

We make do without rocking and after a few songs I sense that sleep is near because I can feel the tenseness disappear and the heavy breathing set in.  Both of us are transfixed on the music and like a form of meditation we become one with our breath.  For all the nights of reading logs and homework and discussions about the day's events, it's nice to go back to that place of stillness.  Nothing but music and soft breath.

I put our lullaby play lists on my iPod and we listen to the songs occasionally when we are on a long car trip or we've been overwhelmed by the day's events and need some downtime.  If the boys are fighting in the backseat or yelling over one another for my attention, a simple round of Golden Slumbers usually calms us and returns us to our sane place. Sometimes I even listen to the songs when I'm all alone. 

My days of rocking babies to sleep are gone.  But lullabies aren't just for babies.  We elicit special memories every time we hear our favorite song so we continue to play those lullabies.  Because our lives are busier and more complicated now, it's even more important that we slow down wrap our arms around each other and synchronize our breath to the songs that bonded us so long ago. 

What is your favorite lullaby?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Give It Your All

When I play a game, I play to win. I don't like to come in second or even tie for that matter. I like to win. I don't see any reason to play a game if you are not playing to win whether it's a competitive sport like baseball or a casual dice game like Bunco. If a winner is announced at the end of the game, I want it to be me.

As much as I would like to, I don't always win. Sometimes I lose. But I'm OK with losing if I know that I gave 110% in my effort.  I tried explaining this concept to Nicholas who is learning that it's no fun to lose.  He likes to win, too.  But he has to understand that his effort is more important than the outcome.  If you give your best effort and lose, you still gave your best effort.

Nicholas's soccer team lost its game on Saturday, but it was the best game Nicholas has played so far.  He worked hard.  He ran hard.  He played the entire 60 minutes because the team was down a few players and his coach needed him on the field.  The best move of the whole game was when Nicholas blocked one of his opponent's goals. Imagine seeing the opponent racing down the field, the crowd is cheering and the opponent kicks the ball straight toward the goal.  The ball is hurling steadily toward the net.  All of a sudden, Nicholas appears out of nowhere from the side of the field running toward the ball.  He jumps, soaring through the air like a bird, just in time to block the goal.  The opponent and his crowd look confused, not too sure what just happened, and our side bursts into applause.  I've never seen anything like it.

Nicholas was so hung up on losing that he didn't hear people praising him for his efforts.  He didn't praise himself for his efforts.  We had a long talk that night about how losing is a part of life but how you handle that loss makes all the difference. 

Berating yourself for losing isn't going to make you a better player.  You can't be number one at everything.  You can't always win.  But, you can learn from the losses, correct mistakes and try to do better the next time.  Nicholas needs to take pride in his accomplishments and in his improving skills.  Sometimes the scoreboard will go in his favor and sometimes it won't.

I always want my boys to play to win.  If they aren't playing to win they shouldn't be spending time out on the field.  I'm not one of those parents who thinks it's okay for every kid to get a medal just because he was on the team.  If Nicholas didn't even try and lost the game as a result, I would be upset. But, he gave his best effort and that's all that anyone can ask for.

Better luck next time, kiddo.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's Just Stuff

I think I have a pack-rat in the making.

Nicholas is so attached to his "stuff" that it's difficult for me to remove items of his from my house.  He has seven drawers in his dresser and only two have clothes in them.  Every other drawer is filled with trinkets, papers, baseball cards, broken pencils, stickers, etc.  You name it, it's in there.  Last year he used to forage through the recycle bin looking for things I threw out.  Of course, he would see a Math paper or piece of homework of his and have a fit.  "Mom, I worked so hard on that!" he would scream.  I have to discreetly move papers to the recycle bin and bury them so deep that his peering eyes cannot see them. 

How much stuff am I supposed to keep?

I started an Elementary School file for each of the boys so I can keep some of the precious artwork (self-portraits!), written stories or other priceless things (mother's day cards!) they bring home from school.  I do set aside several things to put in their file.  The rest has to go.  We only have so much room.

I have gotten better about purging as I get older.  Because it's up to me to make sure our house is in order  I'm the one who goes through like a tornado every once in awhile whisking things into trash bags, Salvation Army bags or To-Sell bags.  I can't stand the clutter anymore.  It's too much.

I  wish I could keep every piece of clothing the boys ever wore.  But I can't so I set aside a few pieces of clothes from each of their first five years and plan to make a quilt.  Other clothes, toys, high-chairs,  pack-'n-plays and miscellaneous items I've sold at Mom2Mom sales. It's tough to get rid of the Leap Frog toys that remind me my boys are no longer babies or even toddlers.  I get a little teary-eyed when someone walks off with the aquarium the boys used in their cribs.  But, the boys are getting older and some other little boy can get some good use of it.  I don't want to end up like the Hoarders.

I've obviously learned over the years that it's all just stuff.  It's not easy, but I keep what's necessary and part with the rest.  I believe the boys will get much more out of the letters I write to them at the end of every month and the scrapbook albums showing our family vacations than they will ever get remembering the helicopter toy or school bus phonics set.

I will let Nicholas keep his drawers-full of stuff because as long as it's out of sight, I'm not really bothered. If it was up to me I would clean out the drawers completely, but I don't want to emotionally scar him for life so I will have to give a bit on this one.  Maybe he will eventually learn how to purge and make room for the new things he will find interesting and worthwhile.

Nicholas was sobbing the other night because I told him I planned to sell the glider chair in his room to make way for a new, smaller-scale chair.  This was just a cheap-o glider chair I bought when Nicholas moved out of the nursery.  I don't think he's actually sat in that chair for four years, but he's convinced his life will not be the same without it.  Nothing I said reassured him that he would, in fact, be OK.

Christopher chimed into the conversation and said matter-of-factly, "you know Nicholas, sometimes life is difficult."

Well said, little brother.


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