For the last few weeks, we've been taking a parenting class at our church. It's called Shepherding a Child's Heart and there's so much good stuff that I'm trying to absorb. Today the class mostly focused on communicating with our kids. Sometimes we think we're good communicators when we're really just good talkers. We say "we need to have a talk" and then we talk, talk, talk at them and then we walk away. What I'm learning is that a good communicator is not a good talker, but actually someone who's good at drawing the other person out and listening to them.
I feel like there's so much I need to work on and so many good things to take away from this class, but there's one thing that stands out to me, above everything else. For me to be a good listener, for me to be consistent, for me to be the Mom that God created me to be there's ONE BIG THING that I just can't get around......Here's the kicker for me: I can't be too busy. If I'm hurried, I won't stop and have that conversation, I'll just try to quickly fix the problem. And if I'm distracted, I'll brush something off, that might be a big deal to that person.
Tonight I tried to apply what I learned in our class. At bedtime, I climbed up into that 5 year old's bunk bed and I laid with him. We talked and talked, much later than normal. We practiced writing his name in the shadows. He's been writing his "J" backwards and we figured out that if we put a dot on his left hand, it'll help him remember that the "J" should point to the dot on the hand that he's not writing with. It was like we had a little break through right there, when normally I would want to brush off the conversation, since after all, it's bedtime and I'm ready to check out for the day.
Our weekend was mostly spent hanging out together as a family. Saturday morning it rained hard. The day before, the kids had picked the last of our apples so, I called my Mom early and asked her how she used to make apple pies in the cast iron dutch oven. When she told me that she made the pie in a regular glass pie pan and then just baked it in the dutch oven (since we baked on top of a wood stove when I was growing up), my dreams of this gorgeous rustic apple pie flew out the window for a moment. Really, it was in a glass pan? All along, I'd been picturing these big, deep dish, dutch oven apple pies, bubbling away on the wood stove.
That was just a tiny hiccup though. I was determined that since it was raining, we'd crank up the George Winston "Autumn" album and we'd bake our apple pie in a cast iron pan. This cast iron apple pie is something I'll be blogging about more later. There's just something really fun about making a pie as a family, while the rain pours. I have a recipe to share with you for this later in the week.
Later in the day, after the clouds had cleared, we grabbed some coffee and drove around. We play music for the kids and then talk. We dream of a place in the country. Selling our house sometime and then buying property. A place where we can have a huge garden and wear bathrobes outside in the morning. We walked along the dike as a family and as we walked, the kids stuffed all sorts of weird treasures in their pockets that they later put in a jar in their room.
To be honest, I still don't know how I feel about jars full of weird rocks and flowers in their room. The clean freak in me says that those things belong outside and the adventurous side of me says that I want to raise kids that appreciate the small things and see the beauty in the ordinary and so, we have jars in their room with strange treasures in them.
As we go into this new week, my main goal is to not be too busy to have those conversations, to get down on their level and look them in the eyes. I want to be that person who draws them out, not just puts out the fires. If I'm focused enough to do that, then I think I'll count it as a success.
A few photos from our weekend: