Saturday, September 16, 2017

Unprepared teacher

 A few things have happened since my last post.

 Aquaman turned 9. One last year until double digits. We had a family party at the beach. The pictures are farther down in this post, because I don't have time to coordinate the pictures with my words today.
 A couple days before his birthday a song came on the radio that I hadn't heard since he was an infant: "safe in my arms".
 The lyrics go something like this: "your baby blues so full of wonder, your curly qs, your contagious smile....and as I watch you start to grow up, and all I can do is hold you tight....knowing that storms will rage and clouds will race in....but you will be safe in my arms. Rains will pour down, waves will crash all around, but you will be safe in my arms."
 I don't have much time to think these days it feels like, but I thought a lot about that song over the next couple of days.
 I used to sing that song to Aquaman and cry when he was a baby. He was such a demanding baby. He needed me so much. He never slept during the day or during the night. He cried a lot. He was scared when strangers even looked at him funny and it could set him off screaming for an entire hour if one reached for him.
 He also smiled a lot, and was full of personality and drew all sorts of attention. His eyes so blue, his hair so red and curly.
 He was my first baby and I had never seen one grow up before, and his growing up seemed so hard for him. Even though his infancy was so sweaty and exhausting, I held him tightly and slightly terrified at the idea of someday sending him into the world. He is so sensitive, so intense, the world would not understand him. He is safe with me.
 I thought about that me, and that Aquaman and I thought about Aquaman now and the mom I have become now from watching him grow up.
 Today I am not scared anymore of his leaving the safety of my arms. He still needs me of course, and I will always be a safe place for him, but he is not safest in my arms. He is safest in God's, and he goes out in them every day.
 We have had hard years since then, one in particular. But he made it through. I knew he would see the injustice of the world long before he was ready to handle it, because he sees most things long before he is ready to handle them. But he kept walking. He kept coming home to the safety of my arms, his dad's arms, ultimately the safety of the arms of Jesus, and he kept going, and he grew. And there is something so amazing about watching those baby blues turn wiser and more resiliant. He still struggles with some rigidity, but it often eases into a laugh and he shakes it off. He struggles to understand some social nuances, but he listens when I explain them to him and tries to adjust his behavior.
 That year in 1st grade, there was another popular song I used to sing to him: "I know your heart's been broke again. I know your prayers ain't been answered yet. I know it feels like you got nothing left, but lift your ain't over yet."
 We laughed at the terrible grammar because we both care about things like that, but that song always elicited a smile. A ray of hope.
 There will be more hard days for him to come. It is hard to be as sensitive as he is in this world. But I have seen first hand that he is safe. Not in my arms. In God's arms.
 And it's funny how different the 4th child feels in my arms. She is strong and tenacious and bright and happy so her personality is totally different. But she is a baby and she needs so much from me.
 When Aquaman was a baby I wanted to hold on to that even though it was so exhausting. But with Scarlett, I am just enjoying it. Knowing it will be over quickly, but that it isn't all there is to motherhood, even though it is the most intense phase. Watching them grow and get their wings is a really amazing part too.
And my oldest is only 9. I can only imagine later as the stakes get higher but the rewards get deeper.

 So besides my oldest child turning 9, some other things have happened too.
 First, Scarlett stopped sleeping entirely.
 Which always happens with my babies at this age. I kind of saw it coming, but thought the fact that she weaned relatively easy from the swaddle would prevent the extremity of it. But alas, no.
 I have gone back and forth between fighting and accepting it, but I know what I will ultimately do.
 Ultimately I am not at all ok with having her cry for hours at a time. Nor is our house or family life really set up for such an undertaking.
 Simple measures won't work. She is too awake and alive to the world now. Elaborate bedtime routines and charts and schedules just kind of make me laugh now. For one, I have spent hours on them with previous children and they resulted only in frustration. For another, I have no time to revolve the life of a family of 6 around a baby. Sorry chickie, just not going to happen.
 When I set her down in her bed her eyes pop right open every time. She does not scream, she usually smiles as if it was a delightful game and a restful 5 minute nap in my arms and now it is time to play again.
 If I leave her by herself she will play happily for a few minutes. She will scritch scratch her fingernails against the side of the bed and take great pleasure in the noise it makes. She will roll from front to back and back to front and scoot up and down her bed. And then she will realize that she is alone and tired and start calling for me. Patiently at first, she's a 4th child after all, and then with more passion because she is a 4th child and sometimes you have to assert yourself.
 When I appear to rescue her she will burst into an enormous grin and snuggle up against me.
 So like her brothers before her, she sleeps inb my bed now. And though I am tired, I am happy. She is warm and cuddly and close and she feels safe and that's how I want her to feel.
 She is insatiably curious, and her mind is always going. Last night we rocked for an hour before bed because her body and mind were so excited by life that she could not rest. She alernated between laying her head against my chest then throwing her body back and staring into my eyes thoughtfully for a long time. Occasionally reaching up to very gently touch my cheek. It reminded me of her first night home from the hospital. Still just a tiny bundle of the middle of the night I spoke and she suddenly threw herself back to look at me and I almost dropped her. She knew my voice and she wanted to put a face with it,
 The good news is we don't have to worry about her weight anymore....her thighs are filling out from sleeping in such close proximity to her food source.
 In other news, the kids have now been out of school for a week and a half and a week ago we were evacuated to Viera to await a hurricane the size of the entire state of Florida.
 2 days before school was cancelled, I picked up Aquaman at school early for his well visit and he hadn't eaten his lunch. He didn't talk all the way to the doctor and was quiet throughout the whole thing. On the way home he threw up in the car.

 So we all got sick for the hurricane. Luckily it was a very mild one.
 We were also very fortunate in how we fared in the hurricane. 87% of the county lost power, and 30% are still without. We stayed in Viera and never lost power. Our home lost power for only 24 hours because we are attached to the police grid.
 It has still been a long couple of weeks. The media getting everyone all frothed up a week in advance. The panic in the stores, at the gas pumps. Everyone fleeing the state as if the whole thing was going to be under water. School being out has the kids wild and confused and excited. I am looking forward to the return of regular life.
 But we had fun too. Grilling outside on the porch at my parents' house, reading books by the fire. Spending time with my older brother and his wife during evacuation.
 Being reminded of God's neverending mercy and grace.
 I am tired and overwhelmed a lot of the time.
 I struggle with the burden of the many things my children need to be taught at any given time. It is so much responsibility, so much to keep up with.
 At the moment, Scarlett is learning to sleep in new ways, learning to sit up, learning to coo. Her current main form of communication is growling. She requires so much attention all of the time. Aquaman helps a lot. She thinks her brothers are hilarious. She will often get fussy when I am the only one around. I can never get her to laugh like they do.
 Greystoke is having to learn 3 year old things like how to not drive everyone crazy with obnoxious behavior. I am relistening to the audio book 1,2,3 magic because I needed a reminder in how to deal with him. I definitely feel calmer now.
He is just reaching the point of learning to fall asleep on his own at night which will be helpful when it is done, but is so time consuming.
 The Dude is learning to read and write, and those are pretty much going to have to be taught at home because with his learning differences, he is simply not just going to pick them up at school when the teacher has 20 other kids to attend to.
He is learning a lot of important things at school that I definitely don't feel equipped to teach at home, but reading and writing are going to be mainly my responsibility, and with 3 other kids and a job that feels overwhelming.
He is still learning to control his impulses and to pay attention longer than 3 seconds and teaching him those things is tiring.
 Aquaman is learning everything at such different rates that it makes my head spins. I feel like he will probably be learning quantam physics before he figures out how to eat with silverware, wipe his face, or remember to put his shoes on.
All that, and they could use some time just being enjoyed too. I want to get to know them. I want them to know that I like them and their unique personalities and gifts and weaknesses.
 And there is still the matter of the laundry because you just can't let it take over the house.
 But for now I am just going to keep walking. Lift my head. Know it isn't over yet. Know every day is a new opportunity to try and fail and live and love and learn.
Now I better go. My sister K is in town and we better make use of our short time together. Squeeze it all in because it all goes so fast.
I'll just leave the rest in pictures....
The lip....

Building some of the many many legos he got for his bday!

dirty silly puddle boy

she is just so sparkly

I can't believe I have a daughter

games, that is all he wants to do. Especially life. He loves counting the money. He is good at math. It makes him feel good. I love to watch his wheels turn.

More building

Feeding the birds

Scarlett was in heaven but Greystoke was not pleased

She wants sooo badly to get into his stuff...

I want to kiss her

Silly monkey

The store was out of all the bread except butter bread because everyone was panicking. Aquaman said "look Greystoke we got FANCY bread" because we usually get whole wheat....

I don't know what to say....

One last swim before the storm.

We went to the zoo the day before we evacuated and had the whole place to ourselves since everyone was at the store or on the interstate enjoying the panic...

One last trip to the beach before the storm.