Thursday, October 11, 2007

Finding Balance

I have weaknesses. I have shortcomings. I have limitations. I have obstacles. I have needs. I have challenges. All of these come with being human.
I also have the Savior who has promised me that I will never be given any of the above without a way to over come them. I spent most of the day being referee, mediator, time-out enforcer, deal maker and protector of these six children.
The kids have been fighting....alot lately. It always seems to intensify when Mattea arrives. So today I called a family council to try to get to the bottom of it. So we used the usual method....whoever had the Strawberry Shortcake doll (we have used various items, today that doll just happened to be handy) gets the floor. Meaning nobody else can speak or interrupt. So each person was asked what their concerns/complaints were and I wrote them down. We started with Mattea (since she often feels like the outsider), she said this:
She feels like nobody listens to her. She is an only child and I think she has a hard time adjusting to so many other kids that act like her Sib's.
She can't get what she wants. Her words...not mine. What I think she meant is that she has none of her own stuff at our house so everything she chooses to play with has a chance of being taken away by the owner. Seemingly impossible to overcome to a six year old, so she resorts to screaming. I step in when I deem it appropriate, or try to model an appropriate tactic. She is very responsive to this sort of advice, just sometimes forgets to practice it.

Caleb doesn't follow through when he tells her he will do something for her or let her play with something. (This was in context of the moment. He had told her that he would save her a piece of soap so that she could make a soap boat). I see their relationship strained somewhat in the last couple of months. There are many contributing factors to this problem. Last night after achievement days they sat out in the car and talked like they used to. I know that was good for them. Mike and I need to provide things/time for them to spend with just each other so they can maintain their strong bond. I know they miss each other.

Mattea wants to monopolize Lundi. Of course. Lundi is the most like her out of all the kids. She likes to have Lundi to herself and Lundi likes to have Mattea to herself. These conditions are not exactly ideal for a ten year old boy who wants to be included.
Lundi never likes Caleb's games. Reading between the lines, I can figure out that this means that he wants to choose the game sometimes and he often feels outnumbered.
The four of them (C,L,M&H) never cooperate. This is true. Trying to collaborate four different wills without matured negotiation skills is too much for him, though he does his best. He is getting alot of practice.
The other kids get in his stuff when he isn't there to guard it. (Lego creations and stuff like that) I thought of maybe getting him a locking cupboard or something to keep his special stuff in. It must be tough being the oldest.
When he is trying to get the other kids to obey the rules, they don't listen. Mike always summarizes this scenario by saying "Don't send the ice cream man." In other words, Caleb has no authority as far as they are concerned and they don't have to listen to him. (Mommy and Papa are the only "police" in this house). Yet Caleb feels responsible for them because he is the oldest.

Caleb being inappropriate. This is another one that was in the context of the moment. Earlier today Caleb was mad at him for wrecking his submarine that he had made out of a cardboard box, so he showed Mattea his (Harrison's) underwear. Harrison was embarrassed and felt like Caleb was using his "Big Brotherhood" to annoy him. And he was, that is clear.
Movies that have a bad influence, or put trash in his head. "101 Dalmatians" has been the flick of the week around here. They have watched it every day after school. I had forgotten about the questionable words that the three main characters use when talking to each other. They are very crude and disrespectful. Harrison said "shut-up" today several times and that isn't allowed in our house. Needless to say, he got in trouble. It did not occur to me that he had picked it up from the show, until he expressed this as a concern. I thought it was very grown up of him to recognize that the movie had put "trash in his head" and that we shouldn't watch it any more.
Feeling left out. He has so much against him in the day to day play. He is younger, a boy and is not good at compromising. He also prefers physical activity (running, wrestling, riding bikes) and when the girls want to play dolls, dress up or baker, he just doesn't know what to do. Caleb just goes and builds with Lego's if he can't win the girls over to play what he wants. Harrison has not quite figured this one out. All in due time, my son.
People accusing him of things he didn't do. Harrison is pretty honest. 99% of the time he tells the truth. It is his "favorite way to follow Jesus." When others don't believe him, he gets hurt. It breaks his heart. He is often an easy scape goat, being the youngest of the clique.
He worries about the other kids being in danger. All of my kids have been afraid of going into the forest until about seven or eight. Well, it is one of C&L's favorite places to go. They have built many forts and "cabins" out there. We have warned the kids that it is hunting season and to be careful and wear bright colors or hunters orange. This advice has only intensified Harrison's fear of the woods....he won't go near them. He is so afraid that one of them will get shot, eaten by an animal or lost. I am at a loss of how to ease Harrison's fears while giving C&L the freedom to roam.

So....this was part one of our meeting. At 5:00 everyone was hungry and I noticed that it was starting to be counterproductive. So we all decided to pray for guidance and to meet back tomorrow to talk about changes and solutions. (Part 2)

I admit......I am not balanced. I can not keep all of these balls in the air without divine intervention. When I am off track spiritually, my challenges seem to overwhelm me. I know that this is one of Satan's tools. He indeed wants me to fail. He wants me to think "I can't do this, it's too much." I have been spending too much time doing the optional stuff (blog, chatting on the phone, reading a good book) and not enough time seeking God's help. I need to pray more, read my scriptures and get enough sleep. Otherwise, I am not a good Mommy and definitely do not enjoy my "job."
So, I am closing early tonight so that I might bring balance to my life. I am going to read pray, and sing a few hymns (in French....I love doing that) and ask for the Holy Ghost to be with me as I raise these children tomorrow. It is always amazing to me how little time it takes to get off balance. Satan never sleeps, does he?

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