The Coconut Chronicles and The Perils of Back to School Night

This week found us where 99% of families with school aged kids are.  Yep, doing the Back to School Shuffle.  I can’t figure out where the summer went.  But it is sadly over although the Texas heat remains.  As much as I know I am going to miss my Coconuts, it is time for them to head back to school.  How do I know, you ask?  I think I received a clue when I walked into our game room last week to see Coconut number 1 trying to clobber her brother with a plastic baseball bat.  It appeared to be in response to the fistful of her gorgeous locks that he had grabbed onto and was attempting to pull her to the ground with.  All the while he was laughing like a psychopath as she yelled at him that she was “going to tell mom” whilst swinging blindly with her weapon.    I am thinking I don’t need any sort of prophetic gift to determine that a little break from each other is going to be a good thing.

The Adventure!

The  Back to School adventure started with a morning open house for Coconut #2 and his Kindergarten class.  This is where kids and parents come see their classrooms and meet their teachers.  In other words, bring the entire family, and I mean moms, dads, papas, mee-maws, aunts, uncles, cousins and anyone once or twice removed, to pack our bodies into tiny little classrooms to take a thousand pictures of your kid sitting on a tiny little chair, at a tiny little desk.  All the while trying to listen to information and instructions from the teacher as you dodge and weave to keep from photo bombing someone else’s picture of their kid.  Don’t worry about the info you are missing because whatever you do retain will be sucked right out of your brain as you walk out the door and into the melee of tuition payments, lunch payments, and the dreaded parent volunteer station.

We made it out the door, though, feeling good because we had successfully managed to:   1. Meet his teacher.  2. Find his desk. and  3. Gotten the necessary photos to avoid looking like the Worst Parents of the Year.   We congratulated ourselves in the car as to how smoothly it had all gone.  So proud of ourselves for becoming the seasoned, responsible parents that we were!  Not once did we stop to consider that we had not brought Coconuts 1 and 2.   And that having to deal with one kid at a time does not deserve a self congratulatory response.  But no worries.  We received our reality check when we came back that evening for Coconut #1’s open house complete with our entire entourage.  Minus the dog.

Reality Check!

It started out innocently enough.  We were ushered into the sanctuary of the church that is attached to the kids’ school for a briefing.  Barely had we sat down when Coconut #1 starts.  “Hey!  There’s my friend.  Can I go talk to her?” “Mom, where’s my classroom?” “Mom, where’s music class going to be?” “Mom, where’s Spanish going to be?” “Mom, do you think so and so will be back?”  What am I, a psychic? I get her quieted down just in time for the principle to start into his spiel and then I hear Coconut’s 2 and 3 fighting over my phone.  Her:  “I wanna look at pictures!” Him: “No!  I wanna play a game!”  Me:  “I wanna spank someone’s rear!”  That seemed to settle things down.  For now.

Next it was off to the classroom where the real fun began.  It’s interesting to me that as our kids get older, there appears to be less parent involvement.  It just seems that as they get ready to go through the tsunami of hormones and adolescence, we should be that much more available to them but that’s just my two cents.  Back to my story.  There was a drastically reduced representation of parents at the 3rd grade level.  Most kids only had one parent there with them.  Not us, of course.  We were there to represent!  And represent we did. Especially that moment when Coconut #3 discovered the empty seat next to her sister complete with candy meant for the missing student.  I watched the whole thing unfold as I was supposed to be absorbing information.  Eyes fixed on the candy, she sidled up next to her sister and began to slide the empty chair out.  Before I could say anything however, Coconut #2 saw the empty spot as well.  As soon as #3 had the chair slid out far enough, her bigger, faster brother plopped his little derriere down in it.  Hubby and I looked at each other at the exact same time in terror.  See, #3 takes nothing off her brother and sister.  Since her vocabulary is limited her method of retaliation is often physical, always swift, and so loud that it may cause sudden and permanent nerve damage to anyone within a mile or so away.  Hubby and I stifled hysterical, nervous laughter and I muttered under my breath, “Do something!”  He, being the charming, brave man that he is replied, “I’ve never seen that kid before in my life.” And scoots a few feet away from the scene.  Meanwhile the situation is escalating as I watch #3 take it all in.  As there are parents in my way and pushing them aside is my only option, I stand my ground to see what Rambo-ette is going to do.  Much to my surprise she comes back towards me.

At this point I started to breathe a sigh of relief.  Disaster averted!  Until that is, she grabs an empty chair and begins pushing it with all of her might towards the desks her brother and sister are sitting at.  Never mind the fact that there is about 4 adults, a baby stroller, and another toddler in her way.  I stood paralyzed with dread as I watched her begin to push her weapon of mass destruction towards the group in front of her, intending to simply plow through them.  Thankfully I managed to break free of my paralysis to  lunge forward and hook my foot around the leg of the chair without knocking anyone over.  Looks like all my years of ballet came in handy.  As I stood there tottering on one foot trying to determine when she was going to notice it was I obstructing her journey and begin yelling at me, a late arrival through the door happened to diffuse the situation.  The child whose rear end belonged in the chair that I had wrapped around my foot had just walked in.  Giving me an opportunity to divert the 3 year old and look magnanimous in the process as I “helped” the late arrival find his seat (that I had managed to pull back into it’s proper location behind the desk)  God is so good.

I can’t tell you the relief I felt walking out of that room.  As I fanned my face to reduce my blood pressure, I heard Hubby mention, “You know next year we could have 3 open houses to attend.”  I could have kicked him right then and there.  I never realized that parenting could turn a perfectly sane person into a raving lunatic.  And then I had these Coconuts of my own.  Ed Asner was right when he said, “Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare.”  But as we drove off into the summer night, my little family and I, I realized there was no other place on earth that  I would rather be.  I had a life before my husband and the Coconuts but I don’t remember much about it.  And I thank God every day for that.

3 Coconuts

The Coconut Chronicles: Why God Gave Me a Boy

When Coconut #1 was about a year and a half, Hubby and I decided we were doing so well with her (she hadn’t been to prison, nor was she hooked on drugs) that we wanted to try for a boy.  Like we had a say so in it.  Anyway, we prayed and God in His sovereignty, wisdom, and at times, humor, blessed us with what we asked for.  I should have had some sort of inclination as to the fate that was to befall us as I struggled through my pregnancy, labor and delivery.  Towards the middle of my pregnancy we found out that the little turkey was lying sideways instead of head down.  If he didn’t turn the right way, a C-section was going to be the only way to get him out.  Thankfully at zero hour the midwives worked their magic and got him to turn.  Labor and delivery about killed me with contractions stalling out and baby’s heart rate dropping but he finally arrived, perfect, and beautiful, demanding, strong willed, and inconsolable.  The first year with him made words like “difficult” seem like gross understatements and improper usage of adjectives.

You don’t realize it until it happens to you that going from 1 kid to 2 is not just adding another kid.  It’s exponential.  The energy, the diapers, the craziness.  Combined with the fact that we had a difficult baby, that first year was intense.  But we survived it.  I do remember feeling guilty through most of it because frankly, I was miserable.  It was all me those first 18 months or so.  I was the only one who could get him to stop crying so he spent most of that time attached to my hip.  Or my breast if I really want to get honest. It was the only time he was manageable.  And then one day when he was almost two I remember walking with him up the sidewalk to our house.  I was walking faster then he could handle, and I heard him say, “Wait me, mama!” As I turned toward him he reached up and placed his tiny hand in mine with supreme trust that wherever I led him he would be safe.  I felt my heart melt.  As he gazed at me from pools of deep brown eyes fanned by the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen, all the previous months of struggle seemed like a distant memory.  I felt weak in my knees at the knowledge that I had almost missed THIS.  This moment.  This memory that sticks out so vividly in my mind.

Months went by and as his freckles deepened and vocabulary expanded I found myself more in love with this foreign, tiny creature so different from my dainty daughter.  She loved princess dresses and high heels whereas there seemed to be an electromagnetic pull between him and mud puddles.  Whatever toy you handed her became a baby to be put to bed.  He, on the other hand, could turn the aforementioned toy into a gun or sword or any weapon for that matter.  Boy noises and using “poopy” as an adjective for anything and everything was common place.  Streaking naked throughout the house after a bath, yelling, “Super Wee-Wee,” became an Olympic event in our house and I have loved every ridiculous moment!  His squeaky, high pitched voice that still, to this day, conjures up images of the Muppet Beaker could make me laugh in the midst of a storm.  I realized that this little man child was a gift to me straight from God.  And somewhere, along the way, I’ve figured out…

Why God Gave Me a Boy 🙂

~ Because He saw I lacked patience and knew this small man child would give me many opportunities to stretch and grow what patience I possessed.

~ Because he knew my control freak nature and knew this little boy would teach me that love does not control by emotions or force, but by example, gentleness, and a firm but kind hand.

~ Because He knew my past and the men who had come through my life and that I needed to understands some “whys” that came out of that time in my life.

~ That my son’s life also would be shapen, for better or worse, by my influence in him and that there were things I would need to change in myself to ensure he got the best start possible.

~ Because He knew the joy a small, dirty fist clutching weeds offered to me as flowers would bring to my mommy heart.

~ Because He knew the feel of small, warm arms wrapped around my neck would melt my sometimes cold facade.

~ Because He knew that sweet, sleepy breath on my cheek during prayers at night would still my restless gypsy spirit.

~ Because He knew that bugs given as gifts, ouchies healed only by mama’s kisses, and original artwork presented as carefully as a Monet would be more treasured than gold.

~ Because He knew that a tiny hand slipped into mine with a whispered, “don’t worry momma, I’ll take care of you,” would sustain me through the valley of grief more than funeral home flowers.

~ Because He knew that the unbiased love of a little boy exclamations of, “Momma, you so bootiful,” could lift my spirits and make me feel wanted and needed.

~ But most of all because He loves me.  His desire is to reveal to me, in a small measure, when I look into the depths of huge brown eyes and find myself drowning in love, in like manner does the Fathers love for me encompass Him.

We celebrated the birth of our Coconut #2 last week.  These 6 years that I’ve been given with him so far have been priceless.  Worth every second of hard labor, newborn reflux, and no sleep.  Happy, happy birthday to my man child who, in my eyes, hung the moon, melts my heart, fills my soul.  I am blessed to be your Momma and to have the opportunity to watch you develop into the man that God is growing in you.

 

Happy Bday Bubba!

The Coconut Chronicles and Deceptions in the Toy Aisle…

I had an entirely different post written and ready to publish.  All about mine and Coconut #1’s adventure at kids summer camp.  And I may post it later.  However I ended up having to go on a last-minute shopping trip to Wal-Mart for Coconut #3’s birthday celebration tomorrow and I saw something that made me literally stop in my tracks and my heart hurt.  There in the toy section for little girls was a bright pink box with glittery letters that read, “I Wish I Was….” mega makeover box.  A box for little girls to make their wishes come true in becoming NOT who God made them to be.  I Wish I Was…skinnier, prettier, more popular….insert whatever adjective you can think of there.  Coated in pink feathers and zebra stripes but really it’s the  world reaching our kids as young as possible to teach them that who they were born to be isn’t good enough.  Planting seeds of doubt, insecurity, and outright lies in innocent hearts and minds.

And it hit me as I stood staring at this box that aims to teach young girls that the sum total of their worth will be summed up in a dress size someday that it’s ultimately our fault as parents.  And I don’t mean our fault by purchasing something like this for our kids.  It’s much deeper than that.  It starts before you ever walk into the store and your impressionable offspring begins to desire something like this.  It starts when you as a mother look into your mirror at home and say, “I hate my body.” Or, “I hate my hair.” “I’m so ugly.” And your daughter stands by listening to the self talk come out of your mouth.  Up until this point she thought you were the most beautiful woman in the world.  If she’s anything like my daughter she probably wore your shoes and envisioned growing up to look just like you.  But now she has just learned by your own admission that you are “ugly” and “fat”.  And so the cycle is perpetuated.  What are we teaching our daughters??

As mothers we have to stop the flow of negativity that comes out so easily when it comes to us and our bodies.  If it kills us, we’ve got to speak positive things, especially in front of our daughters.  We have to plug into the beauty God see’s in us as opposed to how the world views beauty.   More than anything we have to take our daughters by the hand and lead them into the truth and realization that they are created in the perfect image of God.  And that no amount of dieting, hair dye or makeup could make them any more perfect than that.

Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Whatever we speak and cling to will be made evident outwardly in our life.  Choose to speak life and teach it to your children.  Finally, give your daughters a gift that no one can take away.  The knowledge that her worth is wrapped up securely in Christ and as the daughter of the King, her place is forever settled.  It’s my desire for my own daughters to read this someday and it not be a revelation to them but simply a reminder of the way they were raised.  My prayer is that they would have no need for a “I Wish I Was….” box because their life in Christ was one that others wished for themselves.

Until then I will do my best to practice what I preach and exchange the lie hidden in the toy aisle for the truth found in my Savior.  I dare you to do the same.

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