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The Joy of Boys

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My amazing, hilarious, talented best friend is not only a kick-butt sales director for 31 Gifts, but also a crafty little bugger who turns out awesome signs like the two above.  When she sent me this pic, I fell completely in love.  Having raised only boys, I know just how super-heroic they can be.  (Don’t get me wrong, there was a time when I desperately wanted a girl.  As time has passed I’ve realized I am blessed to have been surrounded by all these boys. Plus, said friend has a girl who is gorgeous in every way, so I get to live vicariously.  Without worrying about the teenage years.)

What’s so superhero-like about my boys?

I talked all about Big last week, so if you don’t already know his superhero qualities, you can read about him here.

Middle is a keenly intelligent kid with a strong sense of compassion.  Though only 12, he has a way of looking at the world that is kind and respectful while maintaining an innate curiosity.  He’s the guy who would figure out how to save Everyone on the collapsing bridge rather than focusing on the people who might be considered ‘important.’  Money wouldn’t sway his moral compass, power wouldn’t touch it, fame wouldn’t faze it.  He is a natural leader who likes to think things through but is capable of making quick decisions that seldom turn out to be wrong.

Littlest is a joyful, fun-loving guy who loves deeply and lives loudly.  He’s the flashier guy who is flying around the bridge saving all the pretty girls first but making sure to leave time for the babies and other folks.  And maybe relying a little on his older brother to bring the whole plan to fruition, but he’s a heck of a team player.  He has a lot of leadership qualities as well, but they stay mostly dormant while he’s still under his brother’s shadow.  He doesn’t mind.  He really is that guy who shrugs it off, goes with the flow, and just makes sure the endgame is accomplished.  With a lot of fanfare.  And fireworks.  And maybe an explosion or two.  And definitely an Eminem song playing in the background.  Full blast.

Here’s the thing.  Though my little superheroes may have a bit of trouble with the whole ‘cleans his room’ thing, they do keep it in a semblance of order.  They all share without even having to think about it.  They use kind words.  Most of the time.  Because they Are brothers, after all.  Smiling and giggling is their strong suit.  You can’t survive in this house without a rollicking sense of humor.  They run, jump, and climb more than I’d like.  They put family before all else because that is the way they’ve been shown.  They dream.  Great big, wonderful, fantastic dreams that I encourage with all my soul, even if, as a grown-up, I think they might be impossible.  I never tell them.  What kind of Nick Fury would I be if I squashed their dreams?

Now, if only I could do something about all the bodily function jokes, I would be a happy mama.

IMG_20150528_105742107What makes a boy a superhero?  Knowing who he is and where he comes from.  What he loves and what he shouldn’t tolerate.  How to treat others and how to be strong.  And laughter.  Definitely shining eyes and shaking bellies and great, rolling belts of laughter.

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What about you?  What makes your boys superheroes?  Better yet, what kind of superhero is your girl?

.Love wins,

KT

Lessons from Spongebob

Everybody knows I’m not a huge fan of television.  It is mostly mindless drivel, and I only watch it when I’m sick or well… when it’s Sunday night and The Walking Dead is on.  Because who can miss their weekly dose of Daryl?

Anyway (forcing myself back to the point)… Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of a lot of screen time for littles.  I’m not one of those, “OMG, YOU LET YOUR KIDS WATCH TV?!” moms, because, well, most kids these days consider that child abuse.  I just try to gently lead the Littles away from the tube and on to more productive activities.  Mainly because I Cannot Stand the incessant noise.

Enter Spongebob and his supremely annoying voice.

I thought, a year ago, that I hated Spongebob and all his friends.  The laugh, the voice, the Stupidity.

But then I started listening.  And enjoying.  And realizing that Spongebob is Funny.  And sometimes there are lessons in that show that are downright Surprising.

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My favorite Spongebob episode involves a box.  In fact, the episode is called The Idiot Box.  The idiot box is, of course, a plain cardboard box that Patrick and Spongebob put to excellent use.  The box comes with a television in it, but that wily sponge and his starfish sidekick throw the TV away and jump straight into the box.  Squidward, the classic grown-up-next-door, asks why they threw the TV away, and Spongebob happily explains that he and Patrick don’t need the television, they  are going to use their imagination to play with the box.  My favorite part is the way he says Imagination like it is the greatest thing in the known universe.  Because it is.

Spongebob and Patrick go on to climb mountains, have police run-ins, ride helicopters.  Squidward, hearing whirring blades, avalanches, and sirens,  repeatedly opens the box to find the friends just sitting in the bottom of it.  He doesn’t get it; even when he gets a box of his own, nothing happens.  He sees nothing, hears nothing.  Spongebob and Patrick, however, are having one thrilling adventure after another.

How can I hate my kids watching a TV show that blatantly tells them it is infinitely more fun to use their imaginations than to be sitting there watching said show?  Without fail, they turn the TV off after that episode and go find something imaginative to do.

Amazingly, there are other lessons to be learned from the Spongebob cartoons.  Spongebob’s constant quest for his boating license teaches kids how important it is to learn to drive carefully, know traffic laws, and take the whole process seriously.  The episode in which Patrick bonds with Grandma Squarepants teaches littles how (not) to handle feelings of jealousy.  The episode in which Spongebob becomes a stand-up comedian and uses his squirrel friend, Sandy, as the butt of all his jokes teaches why we shouldn’t spread racist humor.  The show is filled with lessons about friendship, work ethic, and staying optimistic under any circumstances.

Who knew?

One more thing I bet you didn’t know.  The creator of Spongebob Squarepants is a marine biologist.  Um… What?  That is pretty cool.

It feels weird for the Lit Mama to be recommending anything TV for your children.  But I do like being surprised, and Spongebob surprises me with its hidden depth and wit, and if you have to let your kids watch a little television so they don’t call Child Protective Services on you, you may as well let them watch Spongebob.

Love wins,

KT

The Blessings of Motherhood

Today is Big’s birthday.  He is 22 years old.  I keep having to repeat that to myself.  My joyful, curious, take-on-the-world-with-his-sense-of-humor little man is a big man now.

lunnqBirthdays always make me ruminate on this whole motherhood thing.  With Big, I have been telling people since he was a toddler that I can’t take any credit for how sweet he is or how smart he is–he was born that way.  It is who he is.  Now I also tell people that I can’t take too much credit for his loyalty to his friends, his work ethic, his refusal to be one of those 20-somethings who cares about nothing but partying.  It is who he is.

He visits his mama and dad and brothers weekly, sometimes several times.  He has 9 years on his next brother, but you wouldn’t know it when they’re together.   He is attentive and interested; he even plays their imagination games with them still, breaking out the Nerf guns, the Nerf swords, or other paraphernalia.  The Littles never feel that Big doesn’t have time for them.  Even though he’s out on his own, occupied by the love of his life, finishing up college and working hard, he always makes times for his brothers.  After all, he did beg me for 9 years to give him one (sorry it took so long, buddy.  I had to find you guys a good dad first).

I can’t take credit for the brother he is.  He is just that guy.

When Martin needs help around the farm or a partner-in-crime for a trip to get building materials or even just car parts, Big is always the first person he calls.  When Martin first came into our lives, I was a little jealous of their relationship.  Big and I had been all we had for so many years that even though I fell in love with Martin partly because of the way he treated Big, I lost a little bit to him.  Because Big had been craving a strong man to admire all his life and now he had one.  He didn’t need his mama in quite the same way.  I’ll never forget the moment I knew I was going to marry Martin.  We were standing on the front porch of my house and Big had just said something really sweet before scampering back inside.  Martin looked at me.  “How could anyone ever leave a kid like that?” He said of my ex-husband.  “He has so much love to give.”

I can’t take credit for that.  Big was born with his big heart.

So I found Big a daddy and gave him brothers and watched him grow into the most amazing young man I have ever known.  I have watched him fall passionately in love with a girl I would have handpicked for him if he hadn’t found her himself.  I listened while he made the decision to become a teacher, and I knew it was a perfect job for such a compassionate person with so much love to give.

And I can’t take credit for that.  In fact, I don’t want to.  I have always said I am blessed to know him, let alone be his mother.  After 22 years, he still makes me the luckiest woman in the world.  I am still as in awe of him as I was when he spoke his first sentence at 15 months.  (It was, “Car-co, get down!”  The cat’s name was Scarlett but he couldn’t quite get those syllables out.  He did, however, know she wasn’t supposed to be up there.)

So Happy Birthday, Big.  Thank you for making this motherhood thing easy.  Thank you for being you.  I love you.

My friends, being the mother of a grown child is different from having littles.  It has a whole new set of instructions.  You have to choose when to offer advice and when to let your child work things out for himself.  You have to be careful not to inhibit him while worrying always about his safety because he is away from your eyes and out of your control.  You have to Trust. Trust that you did things right and he will live his life in a way that makes him happy and causes minimal heartache.  You have to stay out of his relationships, because he doesn’t need you nagging him, but you have to be there for him if he needs your input.  And trust me when I say, sometimes that is such a fine line I don’t have any idea where to put my feet.  But it is just as joyous as having littles, getting to see the outcome of all your hard work.

I look forward to his future more than I ever have.  I hope your experience is as wonderful, rewarding, amazing, fun, incredible, and awe-inspiring  as mine has been.  And your weekend is sunny. 🙂

Love wins,

KT

Love Wins

Somebody asked me over the weekend why I always sign my blog posts “Love wins.”  I thought it was pretty self-explanatory, but I guess it maybe isn’t.  It was not enough to explain to my friend that I wanted to end things, always, on a positive note.

“But what does it Mean?”

It means lots of things, and all of them are important.  Mostly, it is quite likely my biggest belief in life, quite possibly learned from my mother’s example of “Be sure your children know you love them and everything else will work out.”  Possibly it stems from my love of the common fairy tale, in which, every time, love wins.  Perhaps it is derived from my own life story, in which finding Martin and having a family with him has shown me the true power of love.

But what does that mean to me, love wins?  Some people believe good always wins.  Some people believe evil always wins.  Some people think there might be some kind of give and take, sometimes good triumphs and sometimes, unfortunately, it’s the other way around.  Some people believe it is light, or dark, or kindness, or cruelty that tends to win.  Even within different religions, these beliefs are held forth.  In my experience of watching the world–the universe–and how it works, I’ve come to a conclusion that I fully believe.  Love wins.  Every time.  Maybe not in the ways we hope it will, but it always wins.  It lifts us up, it makes us strive to be better, it softens blows, it carries us.  It generates kindness, compassion, empathy, understanding.  It is truly the most powerful force we have at our disposal.  There’s a reason the Bible tells us to love our neighbor and Confucius tells us, “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”  When we love each other, we give everything we have to treating each other right.  We make sacrifices to see each other smile, however fleetingly.  What, I ask you, is more powerful than a smile?

High Quality Love Blank Meme Template

Well, love is. haha

“But what,” my friend asked, “does that have to do with homeschool?!”

Everything.

See, as I said in Friday’s post, none of the moms or dads I know who homeschool come at it from anywhere but a place of love.  I homeschool because my job on this planet–since I chose to have children–is to love them fiercely, raise them up to be productive, gentle, loving men, and make sure that while they are under my charge they are shown a world blown wide open with possibilities.  I don’t want them placed in a box where they have to live up to expectations or a reputation which might stymie their dreams and abilities.  When Martin and I decided to homeschool, we did so with all the love we carry in our souls.

When you, dear reader, decided to homeschool, you did so with all the love you carry in your soul.  So love won.  Again.  Always.  When I spend hours trying to winnow the complex history of China into a doable lesson that touches all the relevant points, I am loving my children so hard they ought to pass out from it. (haha)  When I, who am not a math genius, come up with games to help Littlest get his multiplication memorized in a way that is fun, love is Winning in this house.  When you are trying to decide which curriculum to use, how to afford a field trip that will cement a lesson, whether to join a co-op, you are showing your children that love wins for them because they are the most important thing in your world.

In so many ways, we homeschool parents ensure that love wins on a daily basis.  That is not to say that other parents don’t, because I know some awesome parents whose children attend public or private schools, but this post is about homeschooling.  We don’t get paid for this job.  We rarely even get Praised for this job.  We slog along, letting love lead us, Because We Love.  We are paying so far forward by doing this thing that our great-grandchildrens’ acquaintances might feel the ripples.  We are casting such love into the universe that it is expanding, in part, because of us.  Our children are expanding.  Because. Of. Us.

So again, what does “love wins” have to do with homeschool?

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Everything.

Love wins,

KT