Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!

Posts tagged ‘Discipline’

A Hard Week at Home

The last week of parenting has been trying. On Monday afternoon, the 30 minute Suzuki violin practice with the 6 and a half year old took 90 minutes to complete. Tuesday morning, I turned into my usual morning version of Mr. Hyde (as in Dr. Jekyll and) to get her onto the bus on time. This morning, I discovered that the 8 and a half year old has been lying – again, for the last two weeks daily – about eating breakfast. And it’s sneakier now, as she leaves a bowl with cereal remains in it on the counter AS IF she ate something. I love being a mom, but this week, not so much!

For those of you who don’t know the violin story and might be thinking that I am some kind of over-achieving, push-my-kid-into-every-activity-imaginable kind of parent, Megan started talking out of the blue about playing violin when she was 2 and a half. Really. Right after Christmas of 2003, she started talking about asking Santa for a violin the next year so she could learn to play. She also started identifying instruments on an orchestra placemat she had by saying, “There’s a flute, there’s a drum, there’s a bassoon like Aunt Dawn plays, and there’s the violin I’m going to learn to play…” We thought it was cute, but didn’t pay much attention. After all, she was 2 and a half years old and no one we knew played the violin. We figured she’d seen it on Sesame Street or something and was momentarily obsessed.

Six months later, she was STILL talking about learning to play the violin. We decided that there might be something to her interest, so we explored our options and ended up at the Western Reserve Suzuki School in the fall of 2004. We’ve been there ever since.

Now, Megan LOVES to play the violin; she just doesn’t usually like to practice. And Meg has the Schinker family charm in spades. Ever heard the saying, “She could sell snow to an eskimo?” That’s Megan – and the side that most people see most of the time. As a result, very few people believe that she can throw a tantrum (and I mean the throw-yourself-on-the-floor-and-scream-at-the-top- of-your-lungs type of tantrum) to rival ANYONE. And that’s what she did Monday night for the umpteenth time.

And Emily and breakfast – argh!! She started getting up half an hour earlier so she’d have some quiet time to herself in the morning and more time to get ready for school. As a result, she eats breakfast by herself I usually get up 20 minutes or so after her). After eating oatmeal and nothing else for breakfast for literally years, she decided last fall that she didn’t like oatmeal anymore. Totally understandable to me! So we went to the grocery together and she picked out a new cereal – the ONLY thing she found that she wanted for breakfast.

But somehow, she doesn’t like that cereal now, can’t find any others to try, and refuses to eat anything but toast with cinnamon and sugar. Even THAT wouldn’t be so bad (though I am generally against lots of sugar for breakfast on a regular basis), except that the child likes no dairy except Nestles chocolate milk and one slice of cheese in her lunch. Letting her eat cinnamon and sugar toast with chocolate milk for breakfast every morning seems wrong to me, but I am coming to think that it might be better than the alternative of no breakfast (which I haven’t let here do), the return of Mommy Hyde, or the lying that I suspect is arising from her determination to NOT eat food she doesn’t like and still avoid yelling mommy syndrome.

I have worked – and continue to work DAILY – at being a patient parent, but this week I am definitely behind in the count. It’s a good thing Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend…(-:

Invisible Women

I don’t know where this story originated. If anyone finds (or is) the author, please let me know and I will happily give credit where credit is due! The piece was emailed to me and I thought it was too good to keep to myself. (For the record, I did correct a few grammatical mistakes in the original sent to me.)

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It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’ Obviously not. No one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: “Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?” Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Pick me up right around 5:30, please.’

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude — but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going … she’s going … she’s gone!

One night, a group of us was having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean.

My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’


In the days ahead I would read — no, devour — the book. And I would discover what would become for me four life-changing truths after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals — we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.’

And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’ely4.jpg

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.’

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder, as one of the people who shows up at a job that she will never see finished, to work on something that her name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand-bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, ‘You’re gonna love it there.’

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

An Interesting Morning

Yesterday was the second day of school, and Megan walked.

You see, last year, the girls had some problems getting up and moving in the morning, even though Megan, the 6 year old, goes to bed at 7:00 and Emily, the 8 year old, at 8:00. So this year, I told the kids that whoever missed the bus would have to walk to school. It seemed to impress them – school is, after all, 1.4 miles away! I figured I’d have at least a good week before the “back to school” euphoria ebbed away and the routine feeling started setting in, at which point I’d have to remind them again to get moving.

But on Day 2, Meg decided not to get up and I decided 45 minutes of nagging was enough. So Megan walked and I accompanied her in the car. She ran the first quarter mile without stopping, I got out and personally walked her across every road, and the first part of the journey was uneventful. Just across from the school, however, I got pulled over by a police car!

Although he sympathized with my attempt to teach a lesson, he told me I was a traffic hazard. Plus, the police department had received 10 calls about a van following a child, so I would have to find another solution. Meg got wide eyes when I told her that a policeman asked why she was walking to school instead of riding the bus! I decided to milk it and told her the policeman said she would have to go to jail if she kept missing the bus (yeah – that one will probably come back and bite me, but I was mad!).

Truth be told, even though the depth of her stubbornness amazes me, I was proud that she did actually walk the entire way to school without complaint – and proud of myself for following through and doing what I said I would do. That said, I sure was glad when she got up without incident this morning! We even had enough time to read a book before she set out for the bus stop. Maybe the lesson sunk in after all. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

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