Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

Tag: kids (page 1 of 2)



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.

Will You Push Me?


“Austin’s mom, Austin’s mom! Will you push me?”

I can’t tell you how many times I heard this on the playground yesterday. I visited a local park with my youngest for a field trip with four first grade classes. The swings hung so high above the ground that the kids needed help getting on, and then of course they wanted a few pushes to get them going. They decided three pushes would be sufficient. So I got part of my workout yesterday pushing numerous kids repeatedly. I loved it!

As I pushed them, some told me stories. One of my favorites was from a little girl who told about her aunt recently having a baby. “I have a little cousin now. He is a treasure!” she beamed. My heart melted a little right then.

I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about how we know it’s time to ask for help, and when it’s appropriate to offer it. I’d like to use some examples from kids on the playground to ¬†illustrate my ideas.

1) The Quick Fix:One little guy was having quite the difficult time. His pants were super loose and he ran around in imminent danger of showing the world his underwear. He clomped¬†along behind his friends with one hand hitching up his britches. “Hey guys, wait up! I can’t run that fast,” he’d holler. He managed to prevent a bigger problem, but this wasn’t really a solution was it? This little guy wasn’t asking for help, but I knew I might be able to make his life a bit easier. Having little guys myself, I know most waistbands are adjustable these days. I called him over to me, and sure enough he had the elastic on the inside. With his permission, I tightened them up and sent him on his way. He had both hands free then to scurry up the climbing wall. Problem solved. Lesson: if someone offers help and they have the knowledge to do so, take it. If you see someone struggling, offer assistance if you can. There is freedom in utilizing the skills and knowledge of others, and blessings come from coming to the rescue of our friends..

2) I Can Do It Attitude: Sometimes people have a problem, but they have the resources and the determination to fix it. One little girl was struggling a bit. I asked if she needed help. “No, I can do it.” Pause. “But thanks anyway for asking!” Don’t you love that? She knew she could do it, and she did, but she paused to say thank you. We can always offer help, but sometimes people don’t want it, or aren’t ready for it. However, isn’t it good to know someone is there if we do need help?

3) A Leg Up: Often when we have a problem, we know we can address multiple aspects of it, but there may be just one portion on which we are stuck. Some kids didn’t want me to push, they just wanted me to get them into the swing. One step of the process was enough. Be willing to help with what’s needed, then back away. Too much help might only cause irritation.

4) A Healthy Dose of Self-Awareness: Many people don’t ask for help until it’s too late. All of the kids who wanted to swing and couldn’t get up on it were vocal about it. They knew there was a problem and asked for help. Individuals will wander around a store or library for a ridiculous amount of time before they ask a worker for what they are in search of. I’ve heard it said that too often by the time a couple who is in crisis asks for help in their marriage, it’s nearly too late. The problems have gone on too long. Recognizing there is a problem and admitting it, are key to getting the solution. If you are struggling in some area of your life, don’t be afraid to say to a good friend, “Hey, will you push me?” Don’t miss out on joy because you are too prideful to seek or accept help.

Helping these kiddos made me feel useful. And, I got to know them better in the process. I think I had way more fun than the parents on the sidelines playing on their phones. (But that’s a post for another day).

Bottom line: ask for help when you need it, and offer it when you can. We’d all be better off with a few pushes now and then.


Older posts

© 2018 Amy Lanham

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑