Category Archives: Kids

Lucy – The Original

As a parent you are always looking for yourself in your children, and sometimes you don’t have to look very hard.  You need to only talk to Lucy for thirty minutes to know that she is MY daughter.  The similarities range from the same crooked smile to our painfully logical minds (that exclude common sense).  She talks non-stop, has a strong sense of fairness and a passion for words and books that only rivals my own.  And yet, there are times when Lucy surprises me with her own independent streak – when I realize that she is not a smaller version of ME, but a smaller version of herself.

Lucy has developed an interest in photography.  She has been taking pictures on her iTouch for several months now and with a tiny bit of direction from David has started to develop her own “eye”.  She has been mainly experimenting with textures and nature.  Her natural creative and artistic abilities far out strip my own and are more similar to her father – or perhaps her grandmother – or perhaps Lucy.  Wherever it comes from it most definitely does NOT come from me.

I recently got around to decorating the powder room (it has only taken me 3 years to finally get that done, but whatever – don’t judge).  As I pulled together a couple of small items for the bathroom I printed and framed two of Lucy’s pictures.  The first two Lucy Morley originals.

There is a special feeling when your children excel at something in which you have a shared interest, but there is even greater pride in watching them succeed at something for which you yourself are not successful.  Bravo Lucy.

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Does God Have A Wife? And Other Important Questions

Lucy has always been a smart child and although I have never officially had her evaluated for being “gifted and talented” she has ranked high enough on other assessments to know that she most likely qualifies for the label.  Lucy has many of the typical characteristics and qualities of a gifted child. She has an excellent memory, strong observation skills, strong verbal abilities, a deep vocabulary, and an exaggerated sense of curiosity.  Recently, I had a friend point out how characteristics of gifted children are very similar to those who have Asperger’s. I nervously laughed because these two diagnoses are frequently confused.

One of  the more common traits of a gifted child is their propensity to ask questions, and not the normal questions of childhood, but an on-going stream of consciousness that would make the most astute scholar scratch their head.  Many children grow out of the “why” stage at around age 5, but that has never happened with Lucy.  Lucy doesn’t ask what time it is she wants to know how the clock works.  The other night she and I took a walk around the neighborhood and within minutes I realized that she was in a question mood.  We didn’t really have a conversation as much as she rattled off the following questions in quick succession until I could no longer bear it and we went home.

“Why can I see the moon during the day?”

“Could the moon crash into the Earth?”

“If the moon crashed into the Earth would it destroy part of the world or the whole world?”

“How does the moon spin around the Earth?”

“Is it always sunny on the moon?”

“Does God have a wife?”

“Does God have relationships?”

“Do you think God works out?”

“Do bugs get sick?”

“Do bugs throw up?”

“How many sections does an ant’s body have?”

“What does heaven look like?”

“Will I be able to eat anything I want in heaven?”

“Is there candy in heaven?”

“Can I stay up as late as I want in heaven?”

At some point Max barked “Lucy! Stop asking questions!” to which she sweetly replied, “Mommy, says asking questions is good.  Mommy says that I should never stop asking questions.”

Yes Lucy, keep asking questions, just try not to ask them all at once and in sequential order.

The Reading Ranch

In January when I realized Max was falling behind in school and still couldn’t read the most basic of words I started making phone calls.  I talked with everybody ranging from Max’s teacher to an academic diagnostician (yeah, I didn’t know they existed either).  I called literacy clinics and psychologists and It was during one of these conversations that I was referred to “The Reading Ranch”.

“The Reading Ranch” is tucked up in a small building next to a home security office.  Max and I walked in and found a very small waiting room with a brown leather loveseat on one wall and two chairs on the other.  The walls were decorated with the appropriate western signs and art. After all, it is the Reading RANCH. Max and I barely had time to relax on the tiny couch when Ms. Kim burst into the room.  Her blond hair towered over her small frame, she wore jeans with a western belt buckle and the southern accent to go along with it.  She gently guided Max into a tiny classroom that was just big enough for him and Ms. Kim.  Thirty minutes later Max emerged with a Popsicle and a smile. Ms. Kim invited me into a private room and gave me her assessment. With grand gestures, and a sweet twang in her voice she explained, “WELL, he’s VERY smart.  He just needs some extra time with his basic phonemes.  Don’t know about dyslexia but I would like to meet with him privately for the first couple of months so we can get him caught up with school.”  Max and I established a date and time and left the Ranch.

I would find out later that Ms. Kim is no ordinary reading tutor.  She has extensive experience in education and is in the process of completing her PhD dissertation in phonics. She believes in small classrooms with two students and one teacher.  All of her students receive a lot of individual attention.

Every Tuesday Max would leave school early and we would make our weekly pilgrimage to the Reading Ranch.  I would sit quietly in the waiting room while Max spent an hour, alone, with Ms. Kim.  She would emerge and reassure me that Max was doing great and making progress.  Max, being a boy, would say nothing.

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And then last week as I was tucking Max into bed he asked if he could read a book to me.  I complied and handed him the National Geographic book on sharks that he had picked out.  He opened the book and with ease and speed he read straight through the book stopping only to point out interesting facts.  I tried not to cry.  He read it AND he understood it.

This woman, married to a bull rider and sportin’ cowboy boots has in less than 20 sessions  turned my son into a reader.  This woman has moved mountains.  How do you thank somebody who sees your child not as a number but as a person? How do you show gratitude to somebody who every week told your child “he can” when he thought he couldn’t?

Max will continue at the Reading Ranch, at least for the foreseeable future.  He has now moved on to advanced phonics and handwriting.  However, it is his confidence and belief in himself that has made it all worthwhile.

Llama, Llama

His big brown eyes wide open and his soft pleading voice, “please mama, one more time.” I of course would relent. Max would snuggle his little head against me and I would start, “llama, llama red pajama”.   Between age 3 and 4 I read “Llama, Llama Red Pajama” almost every night to Max.  He loved that book.  However, as he grew up, the book became “too baby” and it was shoved to the back of the bookshelf.

Recently Lucy has developed fears – irrational fears — and for a child who is painfully logical this has been challenging (both for her and me).  Bedtime has become a time of unbridled terror.  Lucy shakes and cries and lists a string of fears that would frighten even the most stalwart safety officer.  She fears everything from tornadoes, to bad guys breaking in, to a bomb in our house.  In one minute she will admit the absurdity and the next she will shake in fear. I’ve tried several things to help her get past this stage but nothing has helped.  Recently, she begged me to let Harper sleep in her room.  I agreed, and before I could finish my sentence Max had moved in as well.

As I tucked the girls into the bed, and Max on the floor, Harper asked for me to read her a story. All of her books were in her room and I didn’t have the energy to slink down the stairs so I dug through Max’s bookshelf and tucked away was “Llama, Llama Red Pajama”.  I opened the book and started, “Llama, Llama Red Pajama reads a book with his mama”.  Max sat straight up and Lucy leaned over.  I sung my way through the book, incorporating all the sound effects and hand motions that I did with Max.  The kids laughed and squealed and the last page was finally turned.  Max quietly said, “I love that book. I remember you reading that to me.  I love when you read to us.”

The next night everybody was snuggled in and the book came out.  Max sat up and said “can I read it to Harper?”  I handed him the book and in his soft voice he quietly and slowly glided over the words, doing his best to duplicate my sound effects and voice inflection. He turned the pages carefully, looking at each picture.  When finished he looked up at me and said “I don’t read it as good as you.  Can you read it again?” I assured Max that he read it just fine and that a second reading wasn’t necessary.  Harper stood up in the bed and screamed “Sissy turn! Sissy turn!” So Lucy grabbed the book from Harper and she read it.  She flew through the rhymes, screaming at every exclamation point and finished the book in two seconds.  Harper then yelled “mama turn!! mama turn!!”  Lucy, Max and I all looked at each other and laughed in understanding, knowing that a toddler’s demands are not easily dismissed.  I read it again and as I read the last line of the book, “Baby llama fell asleep”, Max said, “and that is exactly what I’m going to do.  Night, night mama. I love you.”

I got up from the bed to see my three little Llamas all tucked into their beds, snuggled close to each other.  *snap* memory captured.

The Art of Debate

Lucy came home from school with two envelopes.  The first envelope contained a letter she had written trying to “persuade” us to grant a request.  The second envelope was for me to write my response, put it in the envelope without Lucy seeing the letter, seal it and send it back to school.  Below is the letter I received from Lucy:

Beloved mother and father,

I will make a deal with you guys.  Saige, the new American Girl doll is out and I want her badly. I have some reasons to get me her (not trying to be mean or anything).

First of all, it will get me away from the TV and into my imagination. I won’t use the TV for like two months. It will be like you can just throw away the TV and never get a new one!

Second, it will be totally cheap. I will pay for some of it with my bday money and chore money. And maybe max, if he wants to pitch in (which I highly doubt).

Finally, it will get me busier. Away from you guys. I won’t be bothering you forever. It will be like I am not there! So in conclusion, that’s why you should get Saige the new American girl doll.

Love,

Your beloved daughter Lucy

Throughout my childhood my mother used to say to me “if you can argue with me and win, you can argue with anybody”.  Battles were not easily won in my house and each opinion, request or idea needed to be well thought out and supported.  My mother was the emotional debater who frequently relied on “because I’m your mother”.  But my father could always be tricked using straight up logic and the Socratic method.  Unfortunately, I am more like my father.

I wrote my response and sent it back to school with Lucy.  A couple of days later Lucy opened her letter along with her classmates.  As a wave of gleeful exclamations washed across the classroom as requests were granted, Lucy opened and read the following letter.

My beloved daughter Lucy,

I appreciate the letter you sent regarding the purchase of the new American Girl doll Saige. Although I understand your claim that you will watch less TV and contribute funds towards the purchase, I don’t find this to be a reasonable argument.

First, you currently own two American Girl dolls and I have yet to observe a decrease in your television viewing.

Secondly, an American Girl doll costs approximately $125 and I know you don’t have those funds currently collected.

Third, I would rather you not be busy and “away from me” since you are never a bother and always a delight.

However, if you earn 7,500 chore points through choremonster.com I will gladly purchase the doll for you. I hope you find this to be an agreeable offer.

Love, Mommy

Lucy came home horrified.  As soon as the car door swung open she exclaimed “I WAS THE ONLY PERSON IN MY CLASS WHO DIDN’T GET HER REQUEST FILLED!! IT WAS SO EMBARRASSING.” To which I responded, “Well, make a better argument”.

Raising A Future Lawyer

“Lucy, I think I’m going to run to the corner and get some milk. Are you comfortable being in the house on your own for ten minutes?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Don’t open the door for anybody, and I’ll be back in ten.”

“Okay, so don’t open the door unless it’s like Ms. Micki or something.”

“No, don’t open the door for anybody.”

“Well, can I open the door if it’s Nana?”

“Ok, yes, you can open the door for Nana if she shows up, but she won’t.”

“Well she might. I mean she might just turn up and surprise us.”

“No, she won’t.”

“Ok, so can I open the door for Uncle Paul or Aunt Beth?”

“Technically, yes, I suppose you could, but they won’t come either.”

“So I can open the door if I know the person. Can I open the door for Mikayla?” (our neighbor)

“No, you cannot open the door for Mikayla. You can only open the door for Nana.”

“But what if Mikayla rings the doorbell like 20 times?”

“No, you cannot open the door for Mikayla.”

“Okay, so Nana, or family or people like family – like Ms. Micki or Mrs. McDonald”

“NO LUCY! You can ONLY open the door for Nana!”

“But what if I know the person really well and I know they are a safe person?”

“Lucy, don’t worry about it. I’m not going to the store.”

“Oh good, I didn’t want to be home on my own when it’s raining.”

 

Letter From Santa

In an effort to remedy the psychological damage I inflicted after threatening no visit from Santa Claus I crafted and mailed the following letter to my children.  Let’s hope it saves me at least two trips to the therapist’s office.

 

Dear Lucy & Max,

It is my pleasure to inform you that after careful review of your behavior and attitude during the year 2011 that Santa Claus has decided to add you to the following list:

GOOD

We would like to request that on Christmas Eve you place the following items on a plate close to the fireplace:

 

  1. A small cup of milk (cow and no less than 2%)
  2. Three small iced cookies (please no chocolate)
  3. Three small carrots (peeled)

In addition, we would like to invite you to visit Santa Claus at a store location near you.  Every year we strive to deliver toys that meet each child’s wishes and your visit to Santa Claus is an important step in guaranteeing our continued toy success.

We have also noted that you will be staying at your Nana’s house (Max & Carolyn Morley Denton, TX) and would like your Christmas presents delivered there instead of your normal home location.  If this is an error please contact our delivery team immediately with the correct address (sclaus_delivery@npole.net).

We would like to thank you for your continued support and belief in our organization and we look forward to hearing from you again in 2012.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

 

Lauri Steingarten

Senior Elf

Department of List Management

The Santa Claus Threat

I was sick of listening to them bicker. Lucy. Max. Both of them going at it like a couple of chickens in a coop.  “She’s bossing me!” “He’s pulling my hair!”  I was about to pull my own hair if they didn’t stop.  I yelled across the kitchen, “I’m DONE! MAX, GO SIT ON THE STAIRS! LUCY, GO SIT IN MY ROOM! I WANT YOU TWO SEPARATED AND QUIET!”

What I did next can only be put in the category of dangerous thoughtlessness.  I was rash. I didn’t think. I shouldn’t have gone there.

I picked up my phone and called Santa Claus (aka; my sister Stacy).  “Santa? Yes, I’m calling to let you know that Lucy and Max have been fighting an awful lot and I’m not sure they should receive presents this year. Uh-huh. Okay, I will call back if their behavior improves”.  I hung up.

I could already hear Max sobbing on the stairs and muffled between tears he said, “but I want presents for Christmas!”  Lucy bolted out of the bedroom her breathing quick and shallow, tears pouring down, her face pale and the words flying out of her mouth as fast as she could spew them; “WHY DID YOU CALL SANTA? I’M SOOOOOO EMBARRASSED!! HE’S ALWAYS BEEN SOOOOO NICE TO ME. EVERY YEAR OF MY LIFE HE’S BEEN NICE TO ME AND NOW HE’S ANGRY AT ME CUZ I’VE BEEN BAD!! I DON’T EVEN WANT TO GO VISIT HIM NOW BECAUSE I’M TOO EMBARRASSED TO SEE HIM BECAUSE HE IS GOING TO BE SOOOO ANGRY AT ME.”  The sobs coming fast, her breathing becoming more shallow, panic flooding her eyes – I started to worry she would pass out.

“Lucy, come here and sit down.  Max, you too.  Now listen,  Max, you can’t go around pulling your sisters hair and being mean.  Lucy, you can’t say things to Max that you know are going to make him angry.  If you two start behaving like you are supposed to I will call Santa back.”

Max’s tears instantly stopped.  He wiped his face, took a deep breath and declared; “Mama, I’m going to start being good RIGHT NOW!”

Lucy launched into more panicked filled sobs:  “IT DOESN’T MATTER. HE IS ALREADY MAD AT ME AND I’M SO EMBARRASSED AND I BET I’M THE ONLY KID IN SCHOOL WHOSE HAD TO HAVE A CALL MADE TO SANTA AND NOW HE WON’T BRING US PRESENTS!!”  At this point, the panic, fear and shear anxiety on her face, combined with the shallow breathing was making me very concerned that she was going to pass out.  “Lucy, you MUST calm down.  Breathe.  I’m sure you can improve your behavior and Santa will bring you presents. You’ve always been a good girl. I don’t think you need to worry that much”.  I thought I was starting to calm her down when the sobs kicked up again and she wailed; “I BET ALL THE ELVES KNOW AND THERE ARE LIKE THOUSANDS OF THEM! WAAAAAAAAAAA!!!”  Out of this chaos of emotion Max quietly asked; “Hey, can we text Santa?” and without hesitating I said “sure!”

Me: “Lucy is VERY upset and embarrassed”

Santa/Stacy:  “The elves think she deserves a second chance”

Me: “Max wants to know if he gets one too”

Santa/Stacy: “Max needs to not fight with Lucy but he gets a second chance if he promises to be good”

Me: “Max wants to know how big are the elves and Lucy says she is too embarrassed to see you because she thinks you will be mad”

Santa/Stacy: “Eleves are 3ft 4 inches”

Santa/Stacy: “Lucy shouldn’t be afraid to see me. I’ve seen her every year since she was little and I would miss her.  Ho ho ho.”

Me: “Max and Lucy say they love you”

Santa/Stacy: “I love them too. I have to go feed the reindeer now. Good night.

Calm returned to the house after that, but it was an unsettled awkward calm.  Lucy was not fully convinced that she would be returned to the “good” list and I was left feeling guilty and emotionally drained.  I’m sure we will need to make another follow-up call to insure both children have  made it on the “good” list since I can tell Lucy is still worried.

And that is how I managed to scar my child for life.