Sunday, August 26, 2007


At the church we attend here in Wilmore, children stay in the service until the sermon time, then children under school age go to "Extended Session," a more child friendly sermon experience for them. For the past year we have been brining a few toys and coloring for Elijah and sometimes Micah to play with during the first part of the service. (Isaiah is in nursery and Micah has been sometimes joining us, sometimes staying in nursery.) One of the hardest things about parenting for me is knowing how much to expect from a child at a certain time in his life. What is a reasonable expectations for a ____ year old when it comes to ____. You could fill in these blanks with a thousand different things. And, where do our expectations for these things come from? Other parents? Our own families? Media? What would God expect from my 5 year old in church? I thought about this a lot last Sunday and realized that I had higher expectations for Elijah's behavior at school than I do at church. I don't send him to school with toys to entertain himself during his teachers' lessons. I don't put off his homework because I'm having trouble getting his other brothers to bed like I might put off his nightly Bible story and prayer time. And, I spend a good bit of time preparing him- helping him know what is expected of him at school- not just good behavior but that I expect him to learn every day.

With my newfound revelation, I decided that we needed to take a little field trip. So this morning, Elijah and I left home 30 minutes before the rest of the family and walked to church. It wasn't too hot yet and he actually told me twice on our walk, "Mommy, I needed some time alone with you." We talked about all kinds of things, but as we approached the church I told him that I had a special reason for inviting him on our walk today. I explained that he was growing so much that I wanted him to understand more about how special Sunday is for our family. I asked him if he knew why we go to church and what we were doing during the music and prayer times. We talked about what he thought and I tried to deepen his understanding of how blessed we are to be able to worship God freely together with other people, and that because he was getting so big, I think he is ready to start participating with us. This means no more toys in church. It means no more laying on the floor under the bench or crawling back and forth on top of it while we're standing. It means sitting on the bench, or standing next to us, and it means having nothing to distract him from listening and watching, and of course asking questions about the things he doesn't understand. I realize completely that he won't understand a fraction of what happens on the average Sunday morning, but I also realize that by encouraging him to stay distracted, I am preventing him from soaking in his surroundings.

So, how did it go? He was upset at first, as he is with all changes however small, but by the time we got to church his tears were dry, and it actually went really well. Micah was with us today, and he sat just as well and just as quietly (if not more so) than Elijah. They did take full advantage of a bathroom break during worship, but aside from that, Elijah adjusted wonderfully because he knew exactly what was expected of him. Learning to parent well is such a process. I think about all of the times I have developed my expectations on the spot- while we're in the church service, while we're at the restaurant... and how correcting behaviors at that point is like putting out a forest fire with a bucket. The older Elijah gets the more I understand the effect of prevention- especially with him. If all three of them understand exactly what Mommy and Daddy are expecting them to look, sound and act like, the forest fires barely have a chance to start.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pictures of first day

Hugging daddy goodbye,
Hugging mommy goodbye,
Waiting on the step for the bus,
Waiting in the tree for the bus,
Time to go at last. Just so it's recorded for posterity, on Elijah's first day of Kindergarten, the bus did forget to pick him up. We waited for 40 minutes in our front yard and were about to give up and drive him to his first day when we heard the bus coming up the hill. It had already dropped all of the other kids off at school, so on his first day, he and the bus helper had the whole bus to themselves. Elijah would probably prefer it that way. ;)


Ok, anyone who knows me knows that I'm not one to become emotional over just every little milestone. I don't normally cry at much of anything (although I did cry watching A.I. this month... how weird is that.) Anyway, I've been mentally preparing for the 1st day of kindergarten for a couple of weeks now because I knew it would be harder on me than him. Call me crazy, but Kindergarten just seems like a big deal to me. He has officially entered the educational system- Class of 2020 as my own school system was only to eager to point out to moms everywhere, as if our own quandaries about "where did the time go?" weren't already enough. Anyway, he is doing great considering... well, let's just say flexibility is not his strength. We fully expect it to take a month or so before he really settles in and enjoys himself, but he doesn't cry getting on the bus, and he doesn't take on some superhero persona every day to protect his true identity, so I think we've made some steps in the right direction.

He and Micah have both been "reading" whole books to each other lately. I use the term reading loosely because I think they have mostly memorized them, but there are definitely times when Micah gets stuck on a word and either Elijah has heard the story more times, or he is using some phonemic awareness to figure out the words because they end up figuring out the words together. We're going to try to get some video of it because it's just one of those things they will need to see when they're teenagers fighting over the car someday. Elijah also has homework this year, and get this. His favorite parts of homework so far have been identifying letters and numbers and counting skills, but I have to practically sit on top of him to get him to do the drawing. He had to do 5 drawings this week- himself, his family, his friend, something he likes to do, and something he's looking forward to at school. It has taken us literally sweat and tears to get those 5 little pictures out. He draws one line then starts crying (or pouting depending on how tired he is) because it just doesn't look like that way he pictured it in his head. If it can't be exact, he doesn't even want to try. Anyway, we made it through tonight and his little book has 5 pictures. Incidentally Jess, he included Esther in the picture of his family. Mommy, Daddy, himself, Micah, Isaiah and an extra tiny person next to Isaiah. When I asked him who it was he looked at me like I had two heads and said, "it's Esther playing with Isaiah."
He drew blocks as something he likes to do, a newfound interest of his. Anyway, enough blabbering on... her are some pictures.

Simile Metaphor Collection

Elijah after running: My heart is beating like a coconut rolling down a hill.
Elijah on urination: Pee is like horses galloping out of the gate. Once they get started you just can't stop them.
Elijah: If school were a human I'd give it a wedgie.
Elijah: I am like a hot rod and I just want to be a plain old Ford
Elijah on the fruits of the spirit: I've got them all covered except self-control. Its like a tiny green tomato and the rest are all big ripe ones. Especially love. Its like the biggest tomato we saw in the garden tonight.