Monday, October 30, 2006

God Bless The Primary Teachers for their Good Service

This morning while I was upstairs on the computer checking email, I noticed the sound of running water downstairs. I called down and asked DS#3 if everything was okay. He said "Everything is fine, just don't come down!" Oh, dear. You know when your 5 yr old doesn't want your presence it usually means he setting the house on fire. Or in this case, it sounded like he was flooding the house before he set it on fire. I did what all parents would do....I went downstairs.

DS3# is my very smart child who often gets in trouble. (Remember the Great Adventure?) I followed the sound to the kitchen where DS#3 was on a chair in front of the kitchen sink. Besides him on the counter were a lot of dishes. Clean dishes. It took me a minute to register that those dishes were not clean before. What on earth is going on.....?

"Surprise, Mom! I washed the dishes for you! We learned in Primary that we are supposed to give Good Service so I am giving Good Service to you. Did I do a good job?" His eyes sparkled and he looked anxious as if he wasn't sure of my reaction. I guess I looked dumbfounded at the moment. Before I could reply he went on. "Mom, Jesus gave Good Service everywhere He went and we are supposed to be like him. That is what I learned in Primary. Did I give Good Service?" I wrapped him up in my arms, thanked him, and kissed the top of his head. Then DS#3 helped me put the clean dishes away.

As I wiped up the water that had sloshed onto the floor during the "Good Service", I thought about the change in my son this morning. It was obvious that "Good Service" was a benefit to "Good Self-Esteem". My son was happy with himself. He talked about wanting to give more "Good Service". He talked about whom he wanted to give it to. For the first time in his life I saw him think outside of himself. He wasn't the center of his universe anymore.

I'm including my children's Primary teachers in my prayers tonight. I think I'd better send them a thank you note as well. I don't think they know my child has been listening in class It is obvious to me that they have made a big impression in the life of my 5 yr old. And due to the combined efforts of Primary teachers, school teachers, family and, yes, even his parents, I hope my son will want to continue to give "Good Service".

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Middle Child Syndrome

Sometimes I worry that my middle son feels like he is lost in the shuffle of my family. Usually I am proven wrong time and again. But this last parent teacher conference was different. I know it is tough to move to a new area and go to a new school. But what his teacher said really set off alarm buttons:

"Your son is at the top of the class in math and reading. He is so polite and behaves well in class. I just wish that he weren't so quiet."

What? My son? The one who, every year at teacher conference, is told that he is a great kid but he needs to learn not to talk so much? My child, the social king of the classroom?

"He knows the answers but often will just whisper the answer rather than raising his hand. I would like to see him contribute more in discussions and help out his class mates".

What? My son? The one who, ever year at teacher conference, is told not to help out his classmates so much, that they need to do their own work even if he knows more than they do?

I also found out that he did not play with anyone his age at recess. How could I not know these things? When I looked at him I realized he was embarrassed. This whole time he had been putting on a brave face when he really was struggling. I though he handled this move better than my other two sons. Why hadn't my mom-dar gone off about this?

So I pushed my own mom-guilt aside and tried to come up with a plan to help DS#2. That plan came to me in the middle of another sleepless night. It was a plan that seemed too simple to work.

The next day I gave DS#2 the neighborhood map and phone list and told him to call at least 3 boys and they had to be his age (our phone list has the ages of the kids in every household on it). We were going to host a late-over. For those of you not in the know, a late-over is like a sleep over. It has all the fun of a sleepover without the hassel of trying to get the kids to actually go to sleep. I bought the fixings for popcorn, rootbeer floats and brownies. We had plenty of movies to choose from. DS called 3 boys his age who were thrilled to show up. I put the younger kids to bed, served the food, and then got out of the way (I did check on the party surreptitiously every 30 minutes). For 3 1/2 hours our house was incredibly noisy and full of 4th-grade humor. There was popcorn on the floor, debates on where to have your mom buy the best pizza, seconds on rootbeer floats , silly jokes, and wrestling. I don't think they every watched the entire movie. At 10:00 we took them home (DS#2 was surprised to see how close everyone lived to us.)

I have since been crowned "Coolest Mom Ever", which I will be lucky to retain for 24 hours. In the meantime, I have the best reward of all. DS#2 has been smiling more often. We have more visitors to our house asking for him. He is noticeably kinder to his siblings.

I wish the solution to all of life's problems were this easy to solve.