Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

Tag: children



The offending clothes.

“Mom! Tomorrow is dress like a grown up day at school. I need you to help me put an outfit together.”

This from the mouth of my youngest son as he was getting ready for bed. He was already going to be late turning in as it was.

I had that momentary mom debate. Do I draw the line and tell him we’ll take care of it in the morning, or just say sorry, he should have told me earlier? Or, do I take a few minutes to help him gather some things? I opted for the latter, mainly because he rarely wants to participate in events such as these, so I actually felt a little encouraged.

He proceeds to pull out a white dress shirt from the closet and put it on. Next, he hunts down a tie he is happy with. Third on the list is pants. Keep in mind, the seasons are beginning to turn. I haven’t pulled out all of his brother’s hand-me-downs yet for the new season. I trudge into his brother’s room and dig through a storage tub in the closet for a pair of dress pants that will hopefully fit. Now, he digs through the drawer for a belt. There are two and we have to make sure which one fits him now. At this point, he begins insisting on a jacket. His brother has a black suit coat and he wants to wear one like that (which we don’t have in his size). I remember we have a nice dress coat hanging in the entryway closet. I drag it out and he tries it on.

People, this has now been a nearly half hour process. I woke up at 4:30 that morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. I am beyond ready to crawl into my own bed.

Finally, he’s satisfied and I tuck him in. I sing him the two songs I have sung every night for as long as I can remember and say the prayer I always say. As soon as I head to his CD player to turn on the audiobook he is currently listening to, he begins to cackle. Not a gentle chuckle. Not a snicker. A full-blown, laughing his head off guffaw.

“Why are you laughing?” I ask.

He laughs harder.

“What is going on?” I press.

He looks at me with sheer glee. “It’s not dress like a grown up day tomorrow!! I tricked you!”

Me: Silence. Dead, furious, livid, stunned silence.

He sees my rage…a bit of a look of panic on his face.

Quietly, “Um, I’ll still wear it tomorrow if you want me to, Mom. Anyway, all isn’t lost. Now we know what I can wear for my school program.”

I maturely leave the room with no words and a slam of my own bedroom door, much to my husband’s dismay. As I relay the story, he sees more of the humor than my distress, which doesn’t help. The ridiculousness of it all strikes me and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I choose to laugh, although I’m still pretty darn mad at this point. How in the world did I give birth to this kind of menace?

A word of warning if you have children. Do not under any circumstances allow them to watch YouTube videos about pranks. I can’t help but think that’s what made the idea enter that little head of his.

I still remember as a kid pretending to be a spider, crawling out from under my bed at bedtime and biting my dad on the shoulder. Unfortunately, I bit way too hard and took a chunk out. No joke. Let’s just say that didn’t go over too well.

Parenting is dangerous, no question about it. At least I get good blogging material from my kids.

Oh, and if your kid tells you it’s a certain dress up day at school and you haven’t heard anything about it, be very, very suspicious.



Supporting Your Kid’s Interests

spell bowlDo you ever have moments where you wonder how your kid can be so different from you?

Recently, I’ve had several friends post pictures on Facebook of their kids reading by choice during their free time. As someone who values books, I indeed find these photos share-worthy. I will admit, when I see them, I have this small, fleeting thought of, “Where did I go wrong?” I have my library science degree, read all of the time, and neither one of my boys could provide me a photo opportunity like this. They are both excellent readers, and my oldest read voraciously until the end of fifth grade, then it came to a halt. He read his tail off all of his fifth grade year to earn an award for a reading program they have at their school called Accelerated Reader. The previous year they had honored the top ten readers at the awards ceremony at the end of the year. They decided not to give that award this particular year, so all of his hard work went unrecognized. He refused to pick up a book all summer long. As a former teacher, I felt horrified that my kid went a whole 8 weeks without reading a single thing, but I worried that forcing the issue would only make him resent it even more.

My husband was an amazing trumpet player. One of our kids plays, but can take it or leave it. It’s not a passion. I didn’t participate in any sports, but my oldest enjoys track. I didn’t love sitting in the cold rain a time or two for meets, but I’m pleased he wants to be a part of a team and do something physical.

Our youngest wants to be on the spell bowl team. This requires studying 25 words a night, every night for about six weeks with no guarantee of making the team. I was a good speller, but never had a chance to do something like this. I may lose my mind quizzing him on the words, but I appreciate his interest and perseverance.

I have a friend whose daughter recently made the cheerleading squad. She confessed that just about everything about cheerleading is unfamiliar/unappealing to her (her sport was swimming), but her daughter loves it, so she is along for the ride.

Sometimes what we envision or hope for our children doesn’t become reality. Sometimes our kids’ interests push us outside of our own comfort zones. What is most important to me, as their mother, is to shape my children into the people God created them to be. And, I suppose one of the reasons I care about this topic is because as a teacher I saw some students forced into activities that they didn’t enjoy or care about because it was their parent’s interest, and not their own.

Admittedly, it is easier to cheer your child on when you share the love of the activity, but don’t let your passions overshadow your child’s. Kids can do amazing things when they are allowed to pursue the things that naturally drive them.

Growth and Bouncy Balls

An interesting surprise in my shoe.

An interesting surprise in my shoe.

Life with children is never dull. They stretch your boundaries, try your patience, and often thrust you outside of your comfort zone.

I often laugh at the fact that I ended up with two boys. And not just two boys, but two hyper-social extroverts that have never met a stranger in their short lives. If you are reading this and you know me, you know my description of them certainly does not fit me. I am often forced into conversations with strangers now because of my boys. While the fact doesn’t thrill me, I know stretching me in this way is good for me and has helped me grow.

I also don’t like to draw attention to myself. Blending into the background is preferable, as far as I am concerned. That task is hard to do when you are at the mall with a five-year-old and a bouncy ball. Allow me to indulge in a brief rant.

Do your kids have a toy that you just can’t stand and seems to cause far more trouble than it possibly should? Or do you remember having a toy that drove your parents bonkers? Bouncy balls would definitely make my top ten list.

So picture the unfolding scene with me. My youngest and I go to the mall to run some errands. I despise shopping and try to only do it when I have to. After making a couple of quick stops, we go to Chick-fil-A for lunch. As we are standing in line, my son’s eyes suddenly light up as he pulls a quarter out of his pocket. “OOh, money for a bouncy ball!” he yells as he sprints around the corner. Now I must mention, I don’t think I have ever bought him something out of a machine at the mall or anywhere. He’s learned the locations of much sought after treasures due to the generosity of other family members. I must also mention that I believe the quarter was not just “found” in his pocket, but was placed there with full intention to buy a ball because he knew we were going to the mall.

We pass the ball back and forth on the table as we wait for our food…a decent way to pass the time. The ball is put away as we eat. Then things go downhill from there. The ball escapes as we are packing up. It bounces wildly all over the top level of the food court as little man chases it down. Heads turn and eyebrows raise ever so slightly. Sigh.

We make our way to Target. My sweet menace rides seated in the back of the cart. He pretends a few times that the ball has gotten away from him, but I know better…until. We are almost ready to make our way to the checkout line. This time the ball really does get away from him. It takes off across the aisle right in front of the cart of another shopper. My son is shrieking, “My bouncy ball! My bouncy ball!” The ball wildly leaps its way into the men’s clothing area and finally comes to rest under a clothing rack.

Meanwhile, a man, probably in his fifties, has stopped to watch the entire spectacle chuckling the entire time. The gracious lady, nearly accosted by the cursed ball, is kind enough to dig in under the clothes rack and retrieve it with a smile. So much for blending into my environment. There is now a spotlight shining down on us for all to see. Sigh again.

I wish the saga ended there. At least the rest didn’t involve anyone outside of my own family. When we get home, a mad hunt for said ball ensues. Is it in the back seat of the car? The front seat? In my purse? Where did it go?

Relief descends for a brief time once found. The ball is bounced around the house for awhile, then brother gets home from school. Things get noisy with the ball. I shoo them outside. Minutes later there is wailing. Loud wailing. Older brother rushes in to proclaim that the bane of my existence this day has rolled into the flower garden and cannot be found. This is sheer tragedy, even though there are probably ten other bouncy balls in the house almost exactly the same except for an alteration in the pattern of the colors.

The ball is not found and may I say, I am happy? The rest may soon make their way into the trash like some other items I won’t mention, you know, like maybe moon dough.

I knew I had to write this entry when I picked up my shoe yesterday to put away in the closet and found it full of bouncy balls. I simply shook my head, took a picture, and smiled.

Through all of this I am stretched, molded, and refined in the slightest of ways. And ultimately…I am grateful.

Questions: What are some toys that would make your top ten list? How do your children stretch you?

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