Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Author Meet Fail -- Or, how I didn't meet the Pioneer Woman when she came to town.

I had plans, dear readers, big plans. Last night I was going to meet one of my heroes of the blogosphere, Ree Drummond, aka Pioneer Woman. You've heard me 'talk' about Pioneer woman on here before. She is one of the best known bloggers on the 'net, so if you haven't read her blog, you should. She makes me want to chuck it all and move to a big ranch and homeschool my four kids and live with my cowboy husband. *Yes, I realize I only have three kids and my husband is an engineer, but we could adopt and he could be a cowboy, he's very talented like that.*

Anyway, Pioneer Woman was coming to Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Nashville last night, and I wasn't going to miss her. I had it all planned -- or at least I thought I did. I told my hubby *Oh, That reminds me, I really need a better blog name for him. Pioneer Woman calls her hubby Marlboro Man, because he's a cowboy. I could call mine Engineer man, but that conjures up images of glasses and pocket protectors, and he is much more yummy than that. I could always call him Country Boy, but that brings up Bubbas and chewing tobacky and that won't do either. He's a country boy in the sense that he's not afraid of hard work and can do just about anything, and he likes the pace of life to be a little slower, and he loves a good 4-wheeler ride, too. Southern Gentleman might work. Yes ma'am and no ma'am are a regular part of his vocabulary, and ladies, if we were out to dinner with you, and you left the table and came back, he would stand up for you. Oh yes he would. Ooh, and then there's my favorite, Eagle Scout. That name might describe him better than any other moniker I could come up with. He's all the things a good scout is, trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent, but that makes him sound a little too goody-goody, and he's not that either. Since all those names together describe him but are too cumbersome to type, I guess hubby will have to suffice for now. You thought this was a post about Pioneer Woman, didn't you? I'm tricky that way. Anyway, back to the story.)

I told my hubby that I was going to go see Pioneer Woman on Monday night. He said, "That's great, but you know we have Cub Scout Pack meeting, right?" Grrr. No, of course I didn't know that, because I don't think of things like that when I am planning getaways for myself. In my head I know that Pack Meeting is the second Tuesday of every month, but that doesn't always translate to me thinking about it. Plus, last night still felt like the first Tuesday of the month, because it was the 8th and December started on Tuesday. Grrr.

So, plan B. I'll get a babysitter. No problem, right? It's worth it. Well, turns out my college age babysitter is much more responsible than I was at 19. She had a final today and thought it best to stay home last night to study. What was that all about? I'm not sure. I usually started studying for a final around 10:30 the night before, and she would have been home around 8:30, which would have given her plenty of time, but to each his own.

Then I come up with a brilliant idea -- I'll take my girls. You see Pioneer Woman loves kids. And she takes pictures at all of her signings and puts some of the people up on her blog. Have you seen my children? They are beautiful if I do say so myself, and I also have a secret weapon for my girls -- pink cowboy boots. *I just heard an audible gasp from some of you who've known me for a long time. Yes, my girls have boots and yes, I know you wouldn't expect that of me. My mother-in-law bought them on sale, and they are the cutest things you've ever seen.* I was going to put my 3-year-old in her brown and pink twirl skirt and her pink cowboy boots and take her with me. Anyone who says she wouldn't have made the blog in that outfit has obviously never seen her in it. She is too cute, and her 6-year-old sister, well she is a beauty. My girls were going to be famous!

So what happened you ask? Life happened, that's what. We got home from mother's day out and the 3-year-old was in a mood. There is no nap at MDO and by 2:15 when we get home, it's too late to take one. So, we made cookies. Oh, and did I mention the rain? It rained all day long here. Nasty cold rain with nasty cold wind thrown in for good measure. I'm sure Pioneer Woman thinks Nashville is just delightful. The rain had actually slacked off for a little while in the afternoon until right before my older two got off the bus. I missed the knock at the door at first and when my son started pounding on the door and I opened it, it was pouring big fat cold drops of rain. So, I got to hear him belly ache about the rain and getting soaked for 5 minutes until I could yell, "Cookies, fresh hot cookies!" and then all was better.

So, at this point I'm still a little hopeful. Cookies have improved every one's mood and my husband will be home soon, and I'll still make it out of here on time, right? Wrong. After relaxing with cookies and milk and playing a little around the house, my son starts on his homework. Remember, he has a Pack Meeting and has to get it done before he can go. Can I just say that getting him to do homework after being in school all day is like pulling teeth? He is so smart that when he applies himself, it takes all of five minutes. It's just the "applying" part that he can't seem to get past.

I'm busy doing dishes and trying to get some laundry done when he asks me two easy questions as part of his homework. "Name two inventions that have occurred in your lifetime and tell what life was like before and after the inventions." Well, how easy could that be, computer and cell phone. I talk a little about the changes and then I word my responses in easy, short, complete sentences, so all he has to do is dictate. So that's what he does, right? Ha. When I finally get done with laundry and look at his homework he has written about three words down in each of the boxes. His homework looks like some sort of cryptic code. I explain to him that three word responses are unacceptable, and of course he has a minor breakdown. Fifteen minutes later when I am still trying to get him to write complete sentences, my hubby gets home. He, of course, is justifiably unhappy that homework is not down because, say it with me now, "He has a pack meeting to go to!"

Then there's a little thing called dinner I forgot to deal with. Actually, that is untrue. I had baked cookies earlier, and frankly, I can bake or I can cook in one day, I cannot do both. So, it was Spaghetti O's for the kids, leftover Mexican for hubby and cereal for me. Oh, and did I mention the meltdown that my 3-year-old had in the bathroom? She was screaming at the top of her lungs in the bathroom, so I run in to see the problem. She is jerking at her skirt and crying, so I assume she can't get the skirt down and has to potty badly, so I jerk it down and plop her on the toilet. Actually, I try to plop her on the toilet and she clings to me like a spider monkey. My brain does not process this, because I am imagining a puddle on the floor and there is so much screaming going on I can't think. So, I remove her clinging limbs from my body and plop her forcefully on the potty. Five minutes of screaming and crying later, I figure out she needed help getting the skirt up and not down, because she had already pottied. I try to discuss the benefit of using words versus screaming to get what she needs, but fifteen minutes later she is still crying for Daddy and I am holding her in my lap. Then, of course, she tries to fall asleep.

I'll admit it was at this point when I had a crying toddler in my arms, a third grader who was not doing his homework, a first grader who had not read me her book, and a husband who was wondering what was for dinner that I realize meeting the Pioneer Woman was not going to happen. I was in the middle of a train wreck, albeit a familiar trainwreck, at home and the thought of slogging through the rain with a crying preschooler during rush hour to Green Hills, which has the worst traffic this side of Atlanta, was more than I could take.

Yes I felt guilty and worried that Pioneer Woman would not get a good reception from the good people of Nashville due to the inclement weather, but I should not have fretted. I read a blog this morning that said she was there signing books until after midnight. She greets each person and actually talks to them -- she doesn't just sign their book and shove them on. So, Pioneer Woman is awesome and I missed her, but I think she'll understand. She's a mother of four after all, and sometimes being a mom means giving up what you want to do to do the things you should do -- like hold screaming preschoolers who are clinging to you like a spider monkey. Yep, it's a glamorous life I live her in the 'Ville.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lies, D@$% Lies, and 9-year-olds

I had planned to blog about our sweet little town's Christmas Tree Lighting the other night and include some anecdotes about me and my inability to estimate crowd size and how during our premarital counseling this led to a very interesting discussion with me, my husband and our pastor. Instead, I will now be discussing lies. Grrr...

I read a blogger the other day who said her tween daughter has turned into an habitual liar and she thinks this is normal behavior for tweens. As the mother of a 9-year-old who is starting to bend the truth like Bekham, I am dismayed. Really, it's going to get worse? GAH!

This week has been a bad week for lies. The other day my precious son who just a few years ago was toddling up to me to give me a kiss on my knee, came bounding in the door, looked me almost straight in the eye (I still have about 4 inches on him) showed me a picture and said, "Look what me and my friend drew." It was a picture of a person on a motorcycle. It looked to me as if it had been traced, but whatever. I think it rated an "Oh, that's nice" response from me. Then he started prattling on about how he only "drew" half of it, but it still counted because he and his friend did it together and isn't that great. "Yeah, okay, good." And in my head I'm thinking about dinner, and my van that was in the shop, and the Christmas Tree lighting we had to go to, and the friend's child who was at my house upstairs playing with my 3-year-old. But some synapse in the back of my brain was firing and thinking, "What's the deal with the picture?" I figured it had been "traced," so not technically "drawn" so that's why he was acting weird and moved on.

The rest of the night was a whirlwind of picking up my van, getting Sonic for dinner and running back out to the Tree Lighting. As we walk in the door with Sonic in our hands, my precious son looks at the picture that had been discarded on the table and bursts out with "I didn't really draw that!" What? What exactly are you talking about? The truth -- or something possibly resembling the truth -- comes out after many different versions to finally be that he found the picture discarded under a cafeteria table and then he took it and colored it. There was no drawing on his part, and since he found it on the floor, it was not done by his friend. It was only colored by him.

Okay, really? You really chose to lie about something that stupid and insignificant? I just can't wrap my brain around that. Did he think he'd get in trouble for picking someone else's trash up off the floor and keeping it? Did he think he needed to impress me by saying he had drawn it himself. He's a pretty good artist in his own right, and I am usually impressed by the work he does. I mean, I get lying to cover your assets -- we've all done that -- but lying about stupid crap makes me crazy. Is he lying because he's scared of getting in trouble? Is he lying to get attention? Is he lying because he thinks its fun, and he's going to end up in prison one day for his con-artist ways? Gah! I can't figure it out.

In our house lying in a capital offense -- okay, obviously I don't mean that literally, but it is a serious crime. If you fess up to something you've done without lying about it, more often than not you will not be punished. But lie to me or your daddy, and it will not be pretty. Our son is very aware of our views on lying. So why does he doe it? I asked him why he lied and he flipped out. He knew what was coming, and he started backpedalling and justifying as hard as he could. "It was just something stupid! Why does it even matter? It could have been my friend who drew it, you don't know who threw it away. It was only a half-lie, which shouldn't even count!" Just imagine a boy almost my size throwing him self on the ground crying and pitching a fit and you get the picture. It was ugly, but I stood my ground.

So why is lying such a big deal? Because as Christians, Jeff and I know that Satan is the father of all lies. And we cannot allow our children to become habitual liars. *Some of my liberal readers (you know who you are) just flipped out that I referred to Satan. Yes, I do believe in an actual Satan and an actual Hell, and I'm happy to talk to you about it at our next get together.*

So what's a mom to do? I mean after I threaten to beat him if he doesn't quit throwing a hissy fit over the punishment that hasn't even been decided on yet? Oh yeah, I make him look up and write five Bible verses about lying and actions. *Okay, now some of my Christian readers just flipped out that I am using copy work from the Bible as punishment.* I'll admit that the first time I heard this suggestion, I didn't like it. I thought, "It will make my kids hate the Bible if I use it as punishment." But then one night I was out of ideas for a MAJOR violation that had occurred, so I used it. And it worked. He was truly sorry for his actions. More contrite than I had every seen him. And really, the word "discipline" comes from the word "disciple," which means to teach, so what better tool to learn from than scripture. The Bible has lots to say about lying, which brings me to this...

I am a liar. Wow, that seems so harsh, written down on the page in black and white, as it were. But it's true. Readers, you can call it hyperbole (which I love to call it, because it is such a fun word and so apropos of me) or exaggeration or just plain stretching the truth, but I do it all the time. Now flat out to your face lying? I don't usually do that, probably because a.) it's wrong and b.) I stink at it. Can't lie to save my life. Look totally guilty and usually start giggling from nerves over the fact that I am LYING LIKE A DOG to somebody. But stretch the truth -- I do it all the time. "I've got a million things to do today... It must have been 110 degrees in there... I was too sick to get out of bed... Yes, Santa does deliver presents to little boys and girls all over the world in one night." Yep, I'm a liar. So how can I come down so hard on my son, if I'm guilty of the same sin? I don't know, maybe that's why I'm harder on him. But I know I can't just let it slide.

Tonight, it was a lie about homework. He said he'd studied his spelling. I told him to study some more (he forgot his homework twice this week, so I figured he could use the practice). He said he accidentally threw the list in the trash when he cleaned out his folder. Well, I knew he had cleaned out his folder before starting his homework, so obviously he hadn't studied. ARGH!!! Now, I didn't just have the lost spelling list to deal with (I made him dig through the trash to find it -- to no avail) I also had the lying to deal with. Didn't we just go through the lying thing two nights ago? So, more verses. This time instead of five verses, which was pretty light weight, I had him copy each of those five verses five times a piece exactly as they are written. (He tends to shorten and paraphrase.) It took a good 30-45 minutes, instead of the 10 it took the other day. I wanted him to realize that doing the homework he didn't want to do would have taken 10 minutes. Lying over doing the homework and having to suffer the consequences, 45 minutes. No comparison. Don't lie and life will be easier.

So maybe that will sink in a little more. Or maybe, if lying really does get worse as they get towards the teen years, maybe he'll just have a large chunk of the Bible memorized by the time he's 14. I guess there's always that...