Category Archives: Parenting

Summer Time and the Living was Easy for Moms

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Summer Time and the Living was Easy for Moms

It’s summer time. In May, moms can’t wait for it to arrive but right about now, they are all pining for the start of school. They are ready to be rid of send their little snowflakes back to the classroom. And you know why? They are worn out from entertaining them.

I keep humming the tune to Ella Fitzgerald’s hit, Summertime as I recall summer when I was a kid.

It was the 60’s. My mom (like all of the others) shoved sent us kids out the screen door early and locked closed it behind us. Don’t come back until lunch, she said.

The elementary school down the street offered summer recreation. In a big open room (that was not air-conditioned) kids of various aged played ping pong and board games. Outside, others circled around sandy places where marble championships were played out. On the adjacent sidewalk, girls bounced tiny rubber balls and scooped up jacks with proficiency; others jumped rope to rhymes like Cinderella Dressed in Yella and Three, Six, Nine.

Girls Playing Jacks_Photo Credit Required._State ARchives of Florida Memory

Girls playing jacks in Tallahassee. 1963. Black & white photonegative, 35 mm. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <https://www.floridamemory.com

 

There was a sandy playground with a very tall slide. It was metal – by afternoon it was too hot for our bare legs to touch. It was fast, but not fast enough, so we managed to find squares of waxed paper to sit on as we pushed off. There was a sandy hole at the bottom of the slide and our butts landed hard. One time someone fell off that slide and broke her arm. There was no lawsuit so we got to play there all the days of my childhood.

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And who was watching over all of these vulnerable children? I’m pretty sure it was a couple of teenagers. Oh, there was probably an adult somewhere, but my bets are that she was in the air-conditioned teachers’ lounge smoking doing lesson plans for the following year.

When we finally returned home we turned on the water spigot on the side of the house; it ran through the hose and we had to wait for it to cool. It was refreshing.

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Mother didn’t have play dates arranged for our afternoon; she expected us to find a shady spot to play dolls. Later in the day we played kick ball in the front yard, or badminton, using the fence as a net. We jumped on the swing set and swung so high that the legs raised up off the ground. We sang those same jump rope rhymes to the rhythm of swinging legs, propelling ourselves higher and closer to the sky.

We knew better than to say we were bored. She would put a bucket and broom in our hands and we’d be scrubbing screens and cleaning windows before you could say “child abuse”.

If there were Vacation Bible Schools I didn’t know about them. We were Catholic and there is no way my mom was going to allow the protestants to influence us with their cookies and Kool-Aid.

Speaking of Kool Aid, it was a favorite. Sweetened with sugar, I’m pretty sure it kept me alive, like a glucose IV drip. I don’t really remember eating but I’m certain we were fed.

The Popsicle Man came around most afternoons. The sound of the recorded music announced his imminent arrival and we started asking for nickels as soon as we heard it. We didn’t always get one, but it was a treat that we loved. We all sat around inspecting the color of each other’s tongues. No one wiped our faces or hands with wet wipes.

There were those magical afternoons when we loaded up and headed to Lake Fairview for a swim. The water was warm, but it was wet. Not one sign warned of alligators or snakes; we knew they were around, but I never saw even one. They had lots of room to avoid contact with humans and I think they liked it that way.

When it was finally time to come in for the day, she cycled us through the tub in our one-bathroom home (did I mention there were six of us?). The residue from kids who had played hard was apparent in the ring left in the tub. The last one out scrubbed it with Comet cleanser and we all settled in to watch some Red Skelton or Gunsmoke or whatever we my parents wanted to watch.

Yes, my mom left us a lot to our own devices, but she knew more about what we were up to than we realized. The world was big and far away, and our life was simple.

Those tired kids never had a problem falling asleep. She was smarter than any of us knew.

Moms know that tired kids have no trouble sleeping

“Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home…” Proverbs 14:1 MSG

By his grace alone (I survived my childhood summers),

lorraine

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But Momma I Dont Want to be Kind

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Phoebe Fish FaceShe was still clutching her lovey. Her long ginger curls were tangled and falling around the shoulders of her nightgown as she quietly entered the room.

Her younger brother, already involved in play, looked up from his cars and loudly exclaimed “Good morning!” She rolled her eyes and kept walking.

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Mom was nearby and in a flash she was there, challenging the five year old to find kindness in her heart and respond appropriately to her brother’s greeting.

An epic stand-off ensued. Allowed some time to sit nearby and choose a change of heart, she was not budging.

But Momma was not backing down either.

After a few tears and a stretch of quiet time in her room, she returned and managed to speak to her brother with respect (if not enthusiasm). Momma hugged her briefly and asked what she’d like for breakfast. It was a lesson and it was done.

The stubborn momma is my daughter.

Honestly, I busied myself nearby as I mentally composed a short list of compelling reasons to justify my granddaughter’s annoyance with her autistic brother. It’s honest to say that he is not always easy to deal with. I was privately tempted to defend her response.

But if not at home, where? Where will she learn compassion if not by example and through practice in the safety of her family? Where will she learn to treat outsiders well if she hasn’t learned at home with the ones she loves?

If not now, when? She is most teachable in these formative years.

If not by the teaching of her mother, who? Her momma loves her fiercely, and is her first and best mentor.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands
and bind them on your foreheads.
19 Teach them to your children, talking about them
when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19

It would have been easy in the newness of the day to ignore the roll of those blue eyes. There was breakfast and two babies to feed and her coffee was cold again.

But Momma knows…

  • At age 5 her little girl is old enough to know that kindness is a choice.
  • If her daughter doesn’t exercise extending kindness at home, she will struggle with being kind out in the world. She wants her little girl to be the one to say “Come play with me!” to the lonely or the new child in class.
  • There are even times when love is a choice.

This molding of hearts and pointing tiny faces to Jesus is exhausting and no one would have found fault with the omission of consequences just this once.

But momma knows that the hard work is best done early; early in life and when possible, early in the day.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:14

lorraine

 Please visit and “like” the Grace and Graffiti Facebook page here. And remember, it’s nice to share.  Thanks!

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