Christmas with the kids is over

December 24, 2007

Today was the day we celebrated Christmas with the kids.

We had low expectations.  Or at least I did.  My only hopes were that:

1. Nobody would have a meltdown.

2. We would talk about the birth of Jesus in a meaningful way at some point during the week.

3. Nobody would sulk.

We managed to accomplish #2 and #3.  The meltdown(s) of course, starred Bee (6).  They were small.  But they reveal the emotional underbelly of a kid who has so many issues I don’t even know where to begin to help her sometimes.  From the time she was born, according to my husband, she was born into a home of discord.  Since her mother has become a lesbian and is now living with her girlfriend, and I’ve married her dad and I’m living with them . . . she has even more to negotiate.  I feel for her.

She experiences so much shame when she is corrected.  Even when she is lovingly corrected, like this:

Parent: Bee, honey, you know, you might want to try cutting your crepe with . . .

Bee: I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW . . .waaaaahhhhh. <sobs>

Parent: ?

Or it could go like this:

Parent: Bee . . .

Bee: WHAT? WHAT? (in this tone of voice that is like she’s been accused of grand theft auto)

Parent: We asked you not to climb on the back of the couch, right?

Bee: <from the back of the couch> I DON’T CARE! I KNOW! LEAVE ME ALONE!

Parent: Seriously, ,you’re going to fall and crush the . . .

<the thing gets crushed>

Parent: Bee! Dang it!

Bee: WHAAAAAT??? Waaaaaahhhhhh. . ..


The other day I was with my friend who has a three year old daughter.  She was more able to communicate her feelings and receive correction than Bee.  It was sobering to see a three year old explain to her mother why she didn’t want to do something.  She explained very carefully and slowly, like her mother was a recalcitrant, stupid employee.  It was funny and inspiring at the same time.

Having a kid who is unable to control herself or her reactions is draining in the same way that having an asshole boss is draining.  You know you aren’t going to influence the boss all that much in one or two conversations.  You know the boss isn’t going anywere.  You know that any change, if it comes, will be slow.  You know that you are all in the same company and somehow have to find a way to work together.  But you go home at the end of the day worn OUT.

I know that other parents have children with similar issues.  I know this is not some special, unheard of disorder.  But this is my shout out to all the parents and step-parents out there who feel slightly inadequate to the challenges laid before them.

Set low goals, people.  And have a three year calendar on the wall.


My favorite way to procrastinate – Clean House

December 20, 2007

Oh, did you think I meant clean MY house? Ha, ha. No, I mean Style Network’s Clean House. People, I watch this show the way some people watch 24. I love it. It is so satisfying to sit on the couch and watch a home & homeowners go from mess, clutter and ICK to tidy, nice and well-designed. Or as Niecy Nash would put it, from “mayhem and foolishness” to “fabulousness.” Can I just say? I love Niecy. She cracks me up. I love her over-the-top outfits and her no bullshit way of handling some seriously wacked out homeowners. I don’t care that every single show follows the exact same format and she says many of the same things over and over. Who cares? She & the crew of Clean House help people out of some serious Dirty House Problems. And the designer, Mark Brunetz, does amazing things.

Another reason I love the show, aside from the transformation aspect of it, is the homeowners. People. Are. Crazy. I know this. You know this. But DANG! People load up their houses with so much crap they can’t even walk around in their own homes. People sleep in bedrooms so full of junk and clothes that you can’t even see the floor. People hang on to things so ugly they might kill you with thier ugliness. And mercy! Husbands and wives on this show! They are often so nasty to each other! It is hard for me to believe there are that many nasty marriages, but apparently there are. Of course, some are totally sweet to each other. I like those much better.  In any case.  Watching people deal with their messes is awesome.

But here is an obnoxious truth about my Clean House problem. What I love most in life are three things: 1) God and 2) the transformation that God can work on humankind and 3) other human beings.* Clean House gives me the false and fleeting impression that I am somehow involved with 2) and 3) on this list while I sit there with my TiVo remote in hand. I am sometimes usually avoiding doing something that God has asked me to do, or that I simply know I need to do, while I sit there and watch someone else’s transformation. It’s sad. Just today, I was going to work on my imaginary book,** but instead, I chilled with Clean House. They were VERY satisfying shows.

This is the thing about entertainment for me. It feels very satisfying. I like it. But then, when I get to the end of the day, and I realize I watched Clean House instead of praying, writing, connecting with people, or whatever, I’m not so satisfied. It bums me out. My friend Sara did this very, very funny post that was a public flogging/Mea Culpa, and this is mine. I have to step away from the entertainment version of satisfaction and step towards real satisfaction, which involves 1), 2) and 3).

Pray for me!

——— —— —— —–

*this love varies depending on the human being concerned. I am not Jesus, y’all!

**I have to call it imaginary because it is seriously not for real.

Baseball, drugs, parenting, presents and giving it away

December 14, 2007

I love baseball. My best friend loves baseball. My husband loves baseball. My step-son loves baseball. Baseball is a beautiful sport.

Yesterday, Senator Mitchell’s report on the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball came out. The Mitchell report tells a story in detail, the broad strokes of which most of us already knew. Men in baseball use drugs to make themselves, as Kanye would say, “harder, better, stronger, faster.” The ever witty (and bitter) Dodger Blues has lots of funny things to say, as usual.

It bums me out that my very own culture and my favorite sport have created an environment where this kind of accepted cheating goes on. There is something in our culture that tells us “whatever the cost, get what you want.” I’m not saying we’re the first or the only culture to roll like this. Caligula and Nero didn’t live in a vacuum. But still. It’s a crappy and TOTALLY ungodly way to do life. I know, I know, a lot of those players who did that stuff probably have no relationship or knowledge of God.

The Mitchell report had its list, and my husband and I have ours:img_3137.jpg

Yes, those are the Christmas lists for Bee and the boy. And yes, the boy’s has a KEY to understand the priorities of the listed items. Good God. I know that kids are kids and that they angle for what they can get, not just at Christmas but every day. That’s the nature of kids. But I have to say, I started to feel kind of dirty that in my home live two more beings who are this into STUFF. Uh, cause I like STUFF too.

Slowly, slowly, Jesus is turning my heart into a heart that wants to give away a little more than it wants to get. Or that “gets to give to get to give” as John Wimber used to say. I know that I’ve only been in a position of any real influence on the kids’ lives for about six months, so they are just reflecting what their parents, freinds and culture have taught them. I’m hoping that Jesus rubs off on me more so that he can rub off on them some too.

When I read what Eugene Cho’s kid wanted to do with $100,000 (all of it altruistic, for those of you who don’t click through), it gave me a glimmer of hope. It is possible to raise kids that won’t keep writing lists like this, kids who could grow up to have the backbone to say “no, thanks” in a clubhouse where drugs were being offered. Maybe my step-kids can turn into adults who want to give away more than they want to get.

Maybe I can turn more into that adult too. Help me Jesus!

Dancing in the bedroom

December 13, 2007

Today I got home from tutoring in need of a bit of a release. (People! Get your minds out of the gutter! The children were still up!)

Bee and I went in the bedroom, turned on some crazy loud music and danced around like maniacs. It was awesome. There was some crazy heavy metal stuff, a little rap (“I got my drink and my two-step”. . .how can you resist that!), some Neo Encendio mixing, even a little classic rock. I love LA radio, I really do. We danced in our limited space, sometimes on our own and sometimes holding hands. It was great to have someone with whom to just go crazy. Her daddy is more of a contemplative, peaceful sort, and he doesn’t quite know what to do with her exuberance sometimes. I feel like God especially blessed Bee and me with each other.

At one point we were dancing to “Your momma don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock and roll” and she yelled to me over the music, “Well, MY momma dances like CRAZY!” It was a good party, y’all.

Don’t worry. She went to bed like an angel. I’ve gotten enough kids wound up in my day to know enough to PLAN a slow song at the end.

Follow-up to Golden Compass Post

December 12, 2007

Earlier this month, I did a post about the Golden Compass and Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.  I saw the movie this past weekend.  It was visually very pleasing – lots of good special effects for all the talking animals, great color palettes for all the different locations.  The film did seem to stick quite closely to the book.  I know that comparing films and books is notoriously unfair, as they are grossly different mediums, but. . . it did feel like something was missing in the movie.  The sense of urgency is there, but there was something a little stilted about it.  Some of the dialogue was so explanatory that it felt like you were getting a lecture in dialogue form.

Nevertheless, it was exponentially better than many kid movies I’ve seen in past years.  Because the main character is a little girl who bends the truth at times, it can invite discussions about what it means to tell the truth.  The actress who played Lyra was quite good, too.  She isn’t one of those cutesy kids, which is nice.

I only have one other thing to say.  It’s addressed to another actress in the film.  Uh, Nicole Kidman? I know we’ve never met, so I can’t imagine you’d take advice from me, but dang, sister.  Have a sandwich!  Your legs were so thin they looked like itty bitty twigs!

Wait, I lied.  There is one other thing I wanted to say.  I want to thank the commenters on the original post.  So often, as I troll around blogs, I am shocked at the stuff I read in the comments of other blogs. (Especially Christian blogs!)  But you, my fabulous commenters, were balanced and polite, even when you may have disagreed.  Thanks for being civilized.

G-Whiz! Where are you?

December 11, 2007

I invited one of my friends, whom I will call G-Whiz, to be a guest blogger here at IPU.  G-Whiz is smart, wickedly funny and has lots to tell the world.  G-Whiz can also write very nice prose.

But G-Whiz! Where are you?

<dude, i totally warned you i would do this!>

Trusting God for Provision

December 11, 2007

Ever since I started seminary, lo those many years ago (2003), I’ve been trusting God (to the best of my ability) to provide for me. I have never gone hungry and I’ve always had somewhere to live. I didn’t always have enough to pay for car repairs, seminary tuition, dental work, vet bills, or fabulous shoes. So, I have debts – mainly school loans – and some credit card debt too. Often, my parents, who are very generous to me, helped me out. My best friend helped me enormously while I was in seminary by being my roommate and paying a larger share of our rent than I did. A boyfriend (and later, a husband) would put a spare $50 in my purse when I wasn’t looking. No doubt, God provided.

For the record, pre-seminary, I was the queen of living simply, with no debt. I didn’t make much money working in public schools or working as a chaplain, but it was sufficient.

I admit that I thought that God would provide abundantly while I was in school. After all, I was following his call, right? I thought I felt his hand had arranged things so that even though I wasn’t making much in the past, it was always enough. Besides, I would not have wanted to learn more about theology, Greek, Hebrew and all the rest of it if he hadn’t called me to teaching his Word. I feel like that sounds grandiose, like, oooohhh, he called me to this. . . I hope you know what I mean. It wasn’t like I wanted to go to seminary because I thought it sounded cool. I really thought it was what God wanted. Not that I think I have my finger on God’s pulse or anything.

I thought my faithfulness in following this call would mean that God would arrange things just-so. I would have part-time jobs that paid really well. Or maybe, you know, God would make me win the lottery. He he. Seriously, I know seminary was a good decision. But now I’ve got to figure out what to do. . .because. . .

The place that I interviewed with last week offered me a position. They would like me to teach on Sundays and Saturdays. If I accepted both of those days, it would be a nice chunk of extra money. However, if I did that, I would have no Sabbath day. It also means that I would see the kids even less than I already do, since I work every evening during the week except Friday.

So, I’m wondering: is this God giving me a chance to make more money – and providing this opportunity for me? Or is this another place where I should accept what I know I can reasonably handle (i.e. one weekend day of work) and trust God to provide for me in some other way?

Votes welcome.