Our son Addison is a brilliant boy. He’s 10 now and well on his way to becoming a rocket scientist. It’s astounding to observe him in his science lab class. That is the field, so to speak, where he shines the most. When I teach his math lessons (homeschool), he absorbs new concepts as if by osmosis. Before I can even finish my spiel, he takes pencil to paper. And did I mention how handsome he is? Long lashes and tan, muscular torso. Boy howdy!
This is what we are dealing with though, and dealing hard. Addison struggles to focus. His mind is going at light speed, exactly like Steve’s at that age. This is so not conducive to school work. I am both his mom and his teacher, so I constantly redirect. He bursts with ideas and random thoughts to share; while I try to finish the lesson. This tug of war exhausts me some days. Conversely, when our son is engaged in an activity he is passionate about, it’s like he is underwater. Everything but that one thing is tuned out. “Addison, dinner time. …Addison? Addi-SON!” It’s taken me a while to understand that he genuinely doesn’t hear.
It’s Christmas and our teen daughter is finally getting a cell phone. She isn’t aware of this. She hasn’t been begging for one. Adrienne is one of the most non-materialistic kids I’ve ever known. Between her camera, her hamster and her American Girl studio, she is one happy camper. However, she joined a plethora of social groups since we moved to Florida this summer. We find ourselves dropping her off more frequently, with no great way to stay in contact. In addition, her new friends use phones to stay connected to one another.
Adrienne is always above board with us. Communication is a serious priority in ito house. Mainly because we anticipate the time in our family life when more hours each week are spent going in different directions. Far from shying away, our daughter welcomes the opportunity to talk to us all about her life.
We extend our pattern of being a connected family by clearly communicating our expectations (concerning technology). Before writing these, I read a lot of others. Many are fear based, with the underlying expectation that this is a train wreck waiting to happen. We have better results by parlaying privilege until we are tryin secure; also by talking up to our kids, like this:
When Steve and I were shopping for our first house, our goal was to find a fixer-upper that would help us gain extra equity. Our quest led us to some pretty shady properties. Luckily, our Realtor Cristie was an expert at narrowing the hunt, plus she had a great sense of humor.
That first week, we toured a home with cigarette burns on the counters and an on-going pot smoking party in the basement, complete with a giant, glittery unicorn mural. As Cristie herded us out the door, the wife urged us to slow down and see the upstairs. “Thanks,” Cristie quipped, “but we’re looking for something real specific.” We three exploded with laughter the minute the car doors slammed. Her line has stuck with us and became a private joke.
Reflecting on my single years, that line comes to mind. I was definitely looking for something “real specific.” I knew I would probably become a mother and that my choice had to be perspicacious. This Father’s Day, I want to praise the man in our family. Here are 5 specifics that make a world-class father:
We have been parents for 13 years, 5 months and 27 days. When our first was born, we told the nurse that she really should come home with us. I, for one, was only a little bit joking. Take care of our very own human? Not qualified! And yet, in a series of small accumulated miracles, here we are.
Last Friday, Adrienne’s tutorial group held a dance. She and I spent a sweet afternoon together as mother and daughter. We share a definite love for accessories, dresses, and events that call for glam. I taught her a few tricks and tips as I blow dried and curled her hair. I polished her fingers and toes with the perfect shades of magenta and cobalt. Finally, I zipped her dress and opened the box that held her first pair of high heels. Actually, I suggested that she walk around the house first to get accustomed. She replied, “Mom, I’ve been walking in your heels since I was 4!” You got me there, babe.
Over spring break, I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks in Mexico. While there, I began to see how other people live and the kinds of things they do. We stayed in a resort on the Yucutan Peninsula close to the salt flats. People lived by them in these really run down houses. Some of them didn’t even have roofs! When they ran out of room to build, they would knock over a building into the salt flats and build another one right on top of it!
We also looked around in shops in Merida and Progresso, two towns nearby. Almost every shop has hammocks! Since it’s a poorer country, they all sleep in hammocks instead of real beds. They don’t really understand that Americans don’t need hammocks, so they try to sell you every single one in their shop! It is pretty funny.
We swam in cenotes as well. A cenote is a large, natural hole in the ground filled with freshwater. There are cenotes all over Mexico connected by an underground river system. The one we swam in was so clear, you could see all the way to the bottom, thirty feet below. There’s also cute little fish that nibble at your feet! I was drying off and a Canadian tourist screamed as the fish started touching her feet, which was pretty funny.
At the Mayan ruins we went to, we saw a Mayan basketball court! Their version of basketball was much different than the game we play today. The ball was made of solid rubber. The players couldn’t touch it with their hands, but instead had to bat it with their hips and head! The captain of each team ran up and down a six foot ledge on each side of the court, trying to hit the ball into a small hoop 40 feet above the ground! The captain of the winning team was sacrificed because in their culture, being sacrificed was an honor! You got to go straight to their version of Heaven.
Overall, it was a life changing experience. To see how Mexicans live really makes you grateful for what you have. I really enjoyed it, and I definitely encourage you to go!
Many of you follow Life of the Family because you know us personally, or you share our desire to build a connected family. Over the past year, we’ve shared bits and pieces of our story on this blog. We’ve tried to be so careful, because our goal isn’t to cast blame or cause hurt. In fact, sometimes we stay silent for a while, to rest and process while our story continues to bloom. We only ever write out of a place of joy.
Recently, we were in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, where few go to vacation. We spent two weeks exploring all the Mayan ruins and strolling on nearly empty beaches. Each afternoon, the wind and waves are so loud that they drown out all other sound. I found myself on these long walks along the shore, talking to God. I unzipped my whole bag of questions and really opened up my heart to hear Him answer. It ended up being pretty loud and emotional. (Probably a couple Canadian tourists will never forget that one crazy lady.) But it was amazing! There’s something powerful about pouring out your guts, no holds barred, to the One who created it all.
Our BMW glove box holds a very special red journal, inscribed with all our previous family travel dates. Just this past year alone, we counted up 14 road trips. Our list is inspired by Charles Lindbergh, who inked his own list right onto a drawer bottom inside his Airstream trailer. We spotted it in the Henry Ford Museum during our Michigan trip.
Traveling is one of our favorite pastimes together. My husband grew up traveling often with his family. I, on the other hand, was born with an adventurous urge that only grew stronger while couped up in Small Town America.
According to Steve, travel, more than any other aspect of his childhood, solidified the relationships in his family. In fact, research shows that shared adventures deepen the connection we feel with others. We definitely want to replicate that enduring bond with our kids. This will not just happen on it’s own. It’s born out of our intentionality! Time, like money, can slip through your fingers without a solid plan of how to invest it. This is why we prioritize our family first and get fired up for adventure.
Our daughter Adrienne, our first baby, just turned 13! We constantly pinch ourselves and ask, “Wait, what? Where did the time go?” On the other hand, we have made the most of every precious second with Adrienne, and her younger brother Addison. We credit a portion of our success to our choice of independently educating our kids. In our homeschooling, we regularly spend everyday together, and have continued to do so for pretty much our kids’ entire lives.
We didn’t initially plan this life. Before Adrienne was born, I had full-time daycare all lined up to watch Adrienne while I went back to work. We intended for her to stay with my dear friend Rachel and her family. But as Adrienne’s birth drew closer, Rachel repeatedly advised, “I don’t think you want to do this.”
It’s as though she was speaking faith to me. And although I don’t remember the words even registering, they must have. The very instant I held Adrienne in my arms, I felt my logic being rearranged. Steve and I both began to work part-time at home with our new baby. Four years later when Addison was born, we owned a web business and I quit my job in radio.
Train up a child the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 Growing up, I heard this verse preached to parents aiming to raise their kids to be Christians. Basically, train them about God when they are small so they will forever retain faith in their hearts. I don’t disagree, but doesn’t that seem a bit… shallow? I believe the Holy Spirit crafts our understanding of different scriptures based on our current season and who we are created to be.