Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thoughts...

I have had a lot of things circling me the past couple of weeks, which has kept me from having a cohesive blog post appear in my mind.  I usually won't force myself to sit down and write, things come to me and I sorta say "That'll blog" and I know it is something I want to either work out in writing and clarify in my mind, or that I want to make certain I don't forget to share permanently for the kids.  I sometimes think we are so fortunate to have so much of our day to day life recorded here, as inane is it surely must be to others.  But as the kids grow older and I can clearly see our time together winding down as we hit these early teen years, I am even more committed to making sure I never stop.  One day we will all be sitting around the table laughing as we recall these captured memories that otherwise would have been lost to the haziness that naturally comes with time.

Because nothing in particular is standing out for me at the moment, but a little of this and that, I am writing about a few random things below in no particular order.

1)  Peyton Manning...not $60 Million but $96 Million. Not much more to say there, as it simply boggles the mind.

2)  Had a lunch date with Joshie today, as the older kids had another day of state testing to complete, so he and I did what we rarely do as a family and went to a "real" restaurant for a meal.  Josh is not a child I would classify as a "Chatty Cathy"...that award would go to Kenny LaJoy #1 and Angela LaJoy #2 in our family, but today Josh yacked about all kinds of things.  We talked about what he might want to be when he grows up, and how much he loves statistics of all kinds.  Every Friday it is his turn to have the front seat of the car (we have a five weekday rotation...no, we never have an argument about who gets the front seat so it really works!), and he loves to plug in the GPS even if we are just driving to Walmart and back.  He is fascinated with the calculation of miles and altitude changes by feet that appear there.  He loves calculations of all sorts, and spends a lot of time thinking of birth and death dates that overlap with famous people, or looking up mileage on maps.  I jokingly told him we were going to have to outsource Statistics in high school for him, and he might be one of the very few kids on earth who would actually look forward to taking that class!  He grinned widely at that.  He is at that stage where his front teeth still look big and bulky in that grin of his :-)  We sat across from one another and talked about our fortune cookies and he asked Big Questions like "Mommy, what if we think we know the smallest parts of atoms and stuff, but it is really only another universe and there are tons of things even smaller?" or "Do you think everyone here thinks I am Chinese?  It's a pretty good joke that I am Kazakh!"  How much I love being alone with each of the kids!

3)  CSAP testing (our annual version of their state academic tests) has gone well for all the kids.  in the past, much to the chagrin of most of their teachers if they had known, I always made it a point to clearly tell the boys (the girls weren't home yet) that they should always do their best at anything they attempt, but that this test was not a measurement of anything that was really of value to us.  You can't measure character, you can't measure creativity, you can't measure work ethic, and really, you can't measure intellect.  This is just a very narrow way of trying to figure out what basic material a kid understands...or, probably more truthfully it is a way of seeing who tests well and who does not. With the kids we have, we have to keep this as low pressure as possible because they will be years before they "measure up" to their grade related peers, and even longer before they catch up to age related peers.  Thankfully, they all take it in stride, were more interested in the "cool lunches" that were provided...Domino's and Taco Bell (You can see my kids don't eat out much! HAHA!) and all felt good walking out of the test.  I shared on Facebook that Kenny and Angela summed it up best when I asked if they were nervous the first day.  Kenny said "I don't care what I score, as long as I try hard.  I already know I am smart but sometimes it hides!"  I LOVED that and it was such a change from where he was a couple years ago in thinking about himself.  Angela said she wasn't nervous and "...they can't test for everything we are smart in. We might not look smart on some things, but they don't really know us!"  You know, if our kids take only that knowledge about themselves into adulthood, I will feel we were pretty successful.

4)  I have a huge and important writing project ahead of me the next couple of weeks (No, don't even ask, it is not a book...no one would read it if it were!), and it was neat to see the kids glom onto that for some reason.  I was asked all kinds of questions about my "writing process"...am I going to approach it the way they have been learning, how many rough drafts will I have, how long will it take to write it, will I do brainstorming, etc.  They want to see how this writing stuff they have practiced works in a real life application.  So I promised I would share with them every step of the way, so they could see I really wasn't making them do "busy work", that the writing process is indeed what most of us use when we have a project like this. They want to see how many mistakes I make, and are intrigued to see how many changes I make to the initial rough draft.  Their interest was awesome, for it tells me they are all beginning to connect the work they do at the kitchen table every morning with the fact that one day there will be a reason for it all...something that many of us took years to discover and it made the day to day drudgery of schoolwork feel meaningless.

5)  I am at a stage right now where I am experiencing tremendous growth that is coming through doing very uncomfortable things.  I was reflecting on just how much more able I am to see the layers of things than I was even just a few years back.  Growing older has its advantages, for sure, and I hope that one day I can truly be called "Wise", for that will mean I have taken in much of what God has put before me and worked with it...really "seen" it...and processed it.  I have a long way to go, but it is now nice to see that what I urge the kids to do all the time, to "do the hard things", is paying off in unexpected ways despite the discomfort...and that I can model for them working through the difficulties of assuming new roles, of trying new things and feeling awkward at it, of persisting even if you aren't very good at something so you can experience at least a modicum of success.  I am not big on "self-esteem" as it is often "developed" in today's world.

Don't get me wrong, I think it is critical that a child have a healthy, balanced, realistic sense of self-esteem.  But our culture today has somehow come to a place where we don't really understand how a child develops that healthy self-esteem.  It isn't by telling little Johnny how wonderful he is, or by never pointing out his mistakes.  Self-esteem doesn't come from the outside, like a cabbage in a pressure cooker where the lid is slammed tight and glowing words are thrown in the pot with it to be "cooked" in and absorbed.  Self-esteem comes from trying, from failing, from trying again.  It comes from getting to know who you really are through hard work, through experiences, through successes...even little ones.  Of course, that is how it works with a child in a reasonably supportive, nurturing environment.  Take kids like ours who come from very different backgrounds, who have had UNreasonable lack of support or nurture, and it is a whole different ball game. Throw in learning disabilities, adjustment issues, and understandable doubts about self-worth that naturally spring forth from the mere fact of being adopted...of being unwanted by birth parents for whatever reasons...and you start behind the "Self-Esteem 8 Ball", so to speak.

Funny though, the solution really seems to be the same regardless of a child's beginnings.  Kids are far wiser than we give them credit for, they clearly know when they are being "played". They know if accolades are deserved, if compliments were earned, or if both were handed out without merit.  I have watched all our kids, but particularly our children adopted at older ages, and their self-esteem began to blossom only when they began to see true success. We could have complimented them until we were blue in the face, but kids know authenticity when they hear it.  One exception has been when we pointed out gifts and talents we were noticing that they had never seen before in themselves, then you could see they really internalized what they were hearing and it made a difference.

6)  Trusting God's leading can be darned hard.  It is scary, it leaves you sitting in a life that is often filled with uncertain expectancy.  Listening for God can be even harder, interpreting the ways in which God speaks to you is somewhat of a practiced art, one I wish I was far better at sometimes. The cool thing is that God does speak, is always present, and often finally resorts to the equivalent of a Vegas sized neon light with a big ol' arrow to help you finally hear what God is saying.

7)  That leads me to a conversation I had in the car with the kids this week, as we talked about some challenges in our lives at the moment.  What an extraordinary gift it was to hear Matthew sagely say to me "Mom, we can only do what we can do.  We all work hard, try to do what we know is right, try to help others, and just make a living. The rest is really up to God.  Don't worry, just do the hard work and leave the rest up to God to handle."  To hear 12 year old Matt say this, my child least willing to express his faith,was so reassuring to me as a parent.  It means that one of the Big Lessons we have wanted to teach our kids has actually taken root, and will help him along his own life journey as he encounters his own challenges.

8)  Lael came across a used bread machine and presented it to Olesya along with an older recipe book (which means REAL authentic bread recipes). I am eternally grateful for now I won't have dried, hardened, glue like dough all over my counter all week long.  The first loaf was made and shared with Lael, and I imagine tomorrow we will have at least 2 fresh new loaves to try.  You know, if you aren't very domestically oriented yourself, it is a gift of grand proportions to have a lovely daughter who is!

9)  Lovely conversation this afternoon with Angela contributing the most.  We were talking about the writing project, and how Daddy just can't pull that together easily on his own...that it isn't his gift.  We then proceeded to run down a list of the special gifts and talents everyone in our family has to "bring to the table", and how with 7 of us there are few that overlap!  Angela said "Mom, our family has someone who is good in just about everything! No wonder we make such a good family!  That's why we can all get so much done, because we all do what we are good at and no one fights over it or makes anyone feel bad about not being good at something.  You and Dad are so opposite sometimes, but you don't get mad, you just say you'll do this or Dad'll do that.  I want that when I grow up too, 'cuz then the family does so much more together!" I hadn't really thought of it that way before she pointed it out, but as the kids grow older and are more capable, we have all fallen naturally into our non-appointed, organically assumed roles:

Josh:  Spider Killer, Eventual Fish Gutter, Record Keeper and Mileage Calculator (Maybe one day a tax preparer??)
Olesya:  Head Girl Scout, Pet Caretaker, Chief Organizer
Kenny:  Senior Salesman, Head Orator, Resident Theologian, Mental Mathematician
Matthew:  Logic and Strategic Commander, Car Packing Supervisor (He packs even better than Dominick does), Mr. Responsible
Angela:  Group Psychologist and Human Analyst, Gentle Project Director, Self-Motivation Role Model, Chief Hoarder (Hahaha!)

Dominick and I fill in the gaps :-)

It feels weird to end at #9, but that's where this night ends, or shall I say early morning.  If you're wondering why no photos lately, well, we haven't done anything "photo worthy", and my battery charger broke for the camera's proprietary battery pack.  I keep forgetting to order a new one, and will try and remember to do so tomorrow as I want to get out with the camera a little now that the weather is warming up.

Night all!

2 comments:

Kim said...

I hear you on #6 - BIG TIME!

Anonymous said...

I'm looking down the list of talents each of you has.

Josh: Arachnid dissector and fish taxanomist, accountant, actuarial, biological scientist.

Olesya: Veterinarian, practice manager for veterinarian, baker starring on the Food Channel (she has the smile and winning ways for it).

Kenny: Oracle, television salesman of all products for $19.95 "and if you call in the next...", miracle model, handsomest Kyrgystan emmigrant in both heart and body.

Matthew: Flying high in whatever he chooses, crew chief NASA flights, novelist, project manager (whatever project or occupation he chooses), humorist.

Angela: Life coach, counselor specializing in marriage and family, specialist on organizing others homes, picker.

Dominick: Facilitator of all revenue producing projects, values coach for children, employees, family, and community, laughter facilitator, bear hugger.

Cindy: Successful bid producer for airport cafe, editor of newsletter for Nancy Larson Curriculum, winner of Guidepost Writer's Contest, mother extraordinaire, master teacher.

Hello, Adulthood...But Not Goodbye, Childhood

During these waning days of summer, new adults are slowly blossoming and, for one, childhood is very gradually beginning its tentative wave...