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Obedient Sweaty Booties and the Manners Magnets

Just.  Breathe.

This is my first post from my new office for my new blog with my new password and new Twitter handle and new everything.  I knew this new moment was coming.  Here it is.  Breathing.  Whereas I used to sit and sputter words on keyboard, now I freeze, filled with new pressure and I knew this new would be hard and now I know it’s hard but it’s here and I hear that inner Voice telling me to obey and type.  In.  Out.  Breathe.

I’m headed to Allume, a conference for bloggers, mama bloggers like me, at the end of this month.  Other voices compete with The Voice telling me that I’m too weird, too boring, too the same, not same enough, not focused enough, not schooled enough, not enough, too much.  What am I doing?

I’m obeying.

This is day two of sitting in front of my blog unable to write.  I have too many thoughts trying to escape at once and they’re creating a logjam somewhere between my brain and my fingers.

Well, since me typing is obeying, let’s talk about obedience and it’s obnoxious evil twin, disobedience.  Disobedience is a popular subject here at the Dale home.  Tonight Elliott lost a magnet on his chart because of a little disobedience.  Yes, I’ve become that mom.  The chart mom.  Please.  Do not judge.  It’s completely against my nature to have a chart, make a chart, use a chart.  I chafe at all things routine and orderly.  But.  My son thrives on it.  I noticed this with dismay last year when he started preschool and came home babbling about charts and gotcha boxes and earning gummies.  I blinked at him uncomprehendingly, then managed a feeble woo-hoo. At that point, the choo-choo-chart was chug-chug-chugging straight at me and I knew what was coming.

Two weekends ago in desperation I pulled out a whiteboard, some dry erase markers (Don’t lie to me that you never take a whiff.), a ruler, and magnets.  I created a chart for manners and obedience, and I also made a chore chart.  Last Monday, I explained the rules, and Evie blinked at me (She’s young and also way too much like me.) and Elliott got really excited.  Really excited.

Y’all, he’s calling me ma’am.  He’s whipping out the please and thank yous.  He’s already earned a dive into the “gotcha box,” and chose dye-free, all natural jellybeans.  I’m not sure if I’m creating a performance monster or not, but the southern gentleman I’ve been coaxing into existence for 5 years has suddenly popped out.  Who cares if it’s because of bribery?  At some point, he’s going to call his girlfriend’s mother “ma’am,” win her approval and his future wife’s hand, and who cares if he got his bride because of jellybeans?

Maybe I need a chart.  A blog chart.  Nope, sounds horrible.  Maybe if the magnets were cookies.  Or burritos.

What makes me want to obey?  It’s not charts.  No, for me, it’s a variety of reasons, but in this case, it’s because I really, really want to.  I love writing.  I love words and grouping them into weird little non-sentences.  I love knowing the rules and then throwing them out because I can because I know better and this is a run-on sentence and I can because this is the internet and I can do what I want and I would TOTALLY talk like this.  I want to obey because the thought of God letting me, calling me to use my words to shine a big spotlight on His bodaciousness makes me bug-out with excitement and curl into a little humble ball.  Seriously?!?  Write about God and our family and what God’s doing in our family?  I pray constantly for God to glorify Himself through our family.

So I will write.  About our family.  And whatever else God has me write.  And I’ll start sentences with “and.”  Or I’ll start sentences with “or.”  And/or I’ll make up my own words.

I love my freaky family.  Last weekend, we decided to cram in as much BIG FUN as we possibly could.  We towed the canoe behind the golf cart to the lake, ate a picnic lunch in the middle of the lake, light wind breezing over our turkey roll ups and carrots, minimal child-whining.  After the lake, we biked to the yogurt shop.  At this point the plan began to head south.  Literally, too.  We were in fact biking south.  We arrived at the shop, and it had closed 5 days earlier.  For good.  Elliott began reenacting the Scarlet O’Hara scene from Gone with the Wind, where she’s so hungry she starts scratching at the ground, digs up a turnip with her bare hands, eats it, retches violently, then, pumping her fist into the air, vows, “With God as my witness, I’ll never go hungry again!”

Yeah, so Elliott isn’t quite as eloquent as Scarlett yet.  His was more of a loud, high-pitched whine with tears and pouty lips trembles and laments about how “We’ll NEVER get to eat yogurt again!”  “I weawy wanted to eat yogurt!”  “HOW can it be cwosed?!?  Fowever?!?”  He could not hear our assurances of a yogurt-filled future.

To salvage the bike ride, we let the kids pick out popsicles at the grocery store nearby.  As we were wheeling our bikes through the parking lot, Elliott was still working his daytime Emmy award-worthy performance, wailing loudly for all to hear.  Evie began singing the Barney theme song in her Ethel Merman voice, “I WUV YOU!  YOU WUV ME!  WEAH A HAP-PY FAM-A-WEE!”  Alex and I were sporting bike helmets and sweaty butts, and I started my honk-snort laugh.  I mean, really, what options did I have?

We made it into the store, we picked out popsicles, and sat down to eat them in the little eating area next to the spinning rotisserie chickens.  After our popsicles had melted and our booties had dried, we stood up to walk out…only Elliott can’t read yet and headed out the emergency exit door.  The entire store was flooded with shrieking sirens.  We asked the deli guy if there was anything we could do to turn it off.  Nope.

As we hustled away from the scene of the crime, we passed the manager with the Key to Silence, and I mouthed an apology.  Always in mom-mode, where everything is a teaching opportunity, I leaned down to Elliott and said, “See honey?  Once you learn how to read, you’ll know that that door says Emergency Exit.  Reading is so helpful.”

I weawy do wuv my famawee.  Someday my kids will be old enough to threaten me with losing my magnets if I publish stories about their misbehavior.  OR, the chart thing will solve all of our problems and they’ll never disobey again.  In any case, I’d better blog now while they’re still too young to read what I’m writing about them.  Reading really is so helpful…unless it makes my son start censoring me.  Until led otherwise, I will sit down to this new blog, type words on screen, and obey.