I find myself repeating certain things to the little Miracles of Christ. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is or what they are doing. It seems different situations or actions bring out the same responses. It doesn’t matter which one is doing it or where we are. I want to share a sample of these nuggets with you. Some are lines from movies I’ve seen. Others are gleaned from anecdotes I’ve heard. Whatever they are, wherever they came from, I want to share them with you because they help me cope in certain situations. I hope they can help you if you find yourself trying to communicate with your children.
What the hell?
For the love of God/Pete/Mike/All that’s good.
You’re sucking my will to live.
I’ll tell you in Spanish: No.
I can’t even.
What made you think that would be a good idea?
I can’t miss you if you don’t leave.
I want to play guitar for Aerosmith. What can I tell you?
One of my favorite places to visit is Plymouth. Wife and I went there on a spur of the moment when we started dating. It’s still one of our favorite places to go and spend a day or two.
Our itinerary has changed since we’ve been blessed with the little Miracles of Christ. It’s been less browsing in wine stores and more hustling through whatever we’re doing so we can be back at the hotel before (perish the thought) the pool closes.
One particular hostage crisis occurred with The Oppressed on a day that was balanced with adult and child activities. The Wife and I decided we would have a small lunch during the day, not too much. We had plans for dinner. Wife and I noticed a French restaurant across the street from where we were staying. There was a menu posted outside. We looked at the menu and then looked at each other. Wife is a Foodie. She loves restaurants, nice restaurants, restaurants where the waitstaff walks up to your table dressed up in a nice suit and, off the top of their head, recites the specials, including where it came from, what it’s cooked in and how it’s presented.
Wife and I pretty much knew what we were going to order. We noticed it pleased God that this restaurant should offer some dishes the Miracles of Christ would enjoy. Perfect. It was going to be another trip to Plymouth capped off with a night at a restaurant we hadn’t yet tried. I could taste the Grand Marnier right there.
We headed downtown for our days activities and The Oppressed saw Domino’s. The look on her face said it all.
“Can we go to Domino’s?”
“No. We decided where we’re going.”
“I want to go to Domino’s”
“We’ll be back here another time. We can do Domino’s then.”
“But I don’t want to go to that place.”
The barrage had started. Wife and I didn’t expect this attack but it wasn’t the first. We met the initial charge with redirection. From there, we recalled the items on the menu and told her of all the offerings from the bill of fare. Things she herself loved. Things she had been constantly asking for. Things you couldn’t get at a pizza shop and we could get pizza anytime back home, and we have. We don’t have a restaurant like this where we live. This is our chance.
Wife and I offered a Thanksgiving Cornucopia of reasons why our wisdom had led us to this restaurant just as God had led the Pilgrims to Plymouth centuries ago. After a day of travelling and sightseeing, we would enjoy a feast of plenty and give thanks for the bounty the nice people in nice suits would be placing before us.
The oppressed wasn’t having it. She continued to batter us like that first winter of 1620-21. I was noticing the shelter of our reasons that protected us from the harsh winds and punishing weather of an elementary school-child and her demand for a pizza she had seen on TV were overpowering our plans for dinner. My vision of enjoying an appetizer and then a drink with my wife despite pestering children was going up in a flambé. The elements were punishing.
That evening, we sat down to a large pizza served with buffalo wings, paired with a variety of soft drinks served by the cup.
I try to help out children whenever I can. However, there are times when I feel it is necessary for one to put on their big boy/girl pants from time to time and figure things out for themselves. I can point them in the right direction but ultimately they need to do the work themselves.
One such incident occurred rather inconspicuously when one of the Gaggle was tasked with a job. This child set off to tackle their responsibility and promptly returned to me with the finished result. I stopped what I was doing to see what was being shown. I don’t exactly remember what it was but I remember being impressed at the work and I said, “Stellar.”
The Gaggle was confused. “What?” they asked.
I repeated, “Stellar.”
“What does that mean?”
“Look it up,” I replied.
Let me stop here to give you a little backstory. When I was in elementary school and we didn’t know what something meant or how you spell it, we would ask our teacher. Our teacher would direct us to the numerous dictionaries thoughtfully stacked along the side and back of the room. There were plenty of dictionaries to go around so no problem if one or more of the students were trying to spell or define something. I have since become a better speller, reader, and writer for this and thought I was just helping someone be a better student.
They looked at me with a slight expression of fear in their face.
“Look it up,” I repeated.
“In a dictionary?” they asked me.
“Yeah,” I nodded. “In a dictionary.
I led the Gaggle to a bookcase and introduced them to the numerous dictionaries that have accumulated over time. I don’t know how we came to have so many but there they were, ready and waiting for whoever needed help. I selected one for them. “Here you go,” I said. “Let me know when you find it.”
I gave the Gaggle a few minutes before checking on them.
“Did you find it?” I asked.
“Where are you?”
“Page 116,” they answered
I tried again. “What letter are you on?”
“You’re a little ways off,” I told them. Try further in the dictionary.
I heard sniffling. I heard whimpering. I returned to the room where the Gaggle was enduring their torture. “What’s wrong?” I asked them.
The Gaggle cried, “I don’t know how to use this. You just give me this and I’m supposed to figure it out.” The gaggle continued to cry and I waited for them to stop and catch their breath. I wanted to make sure they heard me.
“What letter are you on again?”
“B,” they answered.
“What does ‘stellar’ start with?” I asked.
“Okay,” I replied. “I’ll give you a hint: the alphabet hasn’t changed in about 1100 years.”
I saw a light go on in the Gaggle’s head. He looked up for a second then back down at the dictionary. He flipped through the pages, found the letter, found the word, and gave me (and himself) the definition. I gave him a hug for surviving such an ordeal.
I have an unspoken understanding with the little Miracles of Christ (The Oppressed, The Boy, and The Gaggle. I call them “Miracles of Christ” because it’s a miracle they’re alive with all they’ve endured). I take their dirty clothes out of their room. I wash the clothes, dry them, fold them and take the clothes to their respective room and leave them on their bed. They take their clothes and put them away.
To you and me, this would seem like a fair deal or better than fair. they leave their clothes in their room and, when they come back, there are clean clothes waiting for them. All they have to do is find the drawer the clothes belong in and put them in that drawer. The Oppressed is furious to find her clothes on her bed as opposed to properly put away and refuses to do so. The clothes will either pile up on her bed or be crammed into a drawer. I don’t mean clothes separated and put into a drawer. I mean shirts, pants, underwear, everything folded and stacked will be put into the same drawer. the Oppressed is busy; too busy to be bothered with the tedious chore of separating clothes and putting them into the proper drawer. That is my job. The stress of her life doesn’t allow for such minutiae.
Sometimes I will find folded clothes at the bottom of hampers and baskets. The children swear they have no idea how this happens and proceed to blame the cat. Incidentally, the cat is the same one who turns on the lights after a child dutifully turns the lights off upon exiting a bedroom or bathroom.
The servitude forced upon the children is compounded by the atrocities committed upon them in the morning. When time to get dressed for school, The Oppressed will announce to the entire house that she has nothing to wear. She has looked everywhere, including the mountain of clean clothes on her bed and the random stash of clothes in any drawer. This interferes with her morning, with her entire day and my dereliction of duty will only make her day that much more difficult. If I would just put her clothes in the proper place, she would be able to go about her day.
“Where are your clothes supposed to go?” I ask.
Still waiting for an answer.
The Boy can’t be bothered to put his clothes where they need to go, either. He has a loft bed (translation: a bed fort) and his clothes will end up on the loft, that is, if Kitty hasn’t taken his clothes and stashed them in his laundry bucket. It will be time to get ready for school and he doesn’t have a thing to wear. He needs clean clothes.