Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We Work Hard, We Play Hard

The boys had a couple days off from school last week. My wife was out of town, so we headed down to Iowa to my parent's farm. They had hoped to also drive to Des Moines to have time with their cousins (and their trampoline), but our time ended up being shorter that we initially thought we'd have. And both my grandmothers (the boys great-grandmothers) were now in the same nursing home. We hadn't gotten to see my maternal grandmother since she moved there, and time with them is short and precious, so we wanted to make that a priority (and of course I forgot to take pictures while we were with them).

One of the days were were there we spent helping my dad on the farm. The crops had all be harvested (I was hoping we'd be able to get in some combining). So we helped work ground (breaking up the ground the corn was planted in to overturn the stalks and make planting in the spring possible).

The boys traded off spending time in the tractor I was driving and the one Far-Far (grandpa) was driving (both were John Deere of course). Each of them got a chance to drive. Nils loved working the lever to raise the disk ripper when we got to the end of a row and had to turn around. Anders wasn't thrilled with being in the tractor all day. Nils loved it and would have spent more time there.

We talked about farming and hard work and how much easier it is now than in the Little House on the Prairie books we've been reading.

After we were relieved from our work by my uncle, I took the boys to a good old country park where we played on the playground equipment that would be contraband in any city because it's an unsafe liability (I'm fairly certain some of it is older than my parents), we hiked around the lake and climbed up to go across an old train trestle. After visiting my grandmothers in the nursing home again, my parents took us out to eat at The Pizza Ranch.

The boys also found out that hard work pays off as Far-Far gave them a few dollars for "helping" out in the field. I hope time on the farm teaches them a little bit of work ethic--as well as having good time with family and being outdoors.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Doctor Visits

We've had a lot of sickness in our house lately. First it started a couple weeks ago when my wife took my oldest son home from church on Sunday night because he had a fever. I took him into visit the doctor the next day and discovered he had strep. He would be contagious until 24 hours after starting the antibiotics. But the fever lasted most of the week--so no school for three and a half days. Last Friday I got a call from the school saying my youngest had a fever. I took him into the doctor right away, fearing he had strep. It was just an ear infection in both ears. He had a fever for several days. I took him into school a couple mornings this week only to have them call within a short time saying he needed to come home. He acted fine the rest of the day (I think it was partly because he wanted to come home, lie on the couch and watch a Disney movie like our kids usually do when they are sick--and they haven't watched TV most of the summer). Hopefully tomorrow he'll be back. And this afternoon, after being back in school for a while, I got another call from school that the oldest had a low grade temperature and a painful ear ache. I took him into the clinic and discovered he had an ear infection as well. 
It's been tiring. I've been trying to secure some work. My subbing license just got processed, so I've been contacted schools and looking for other jobs, writing cover letters and sending resumes. I guess it's providential that I haven't been working during these weeks so that I can be home with the boys and be able to answer phone calls from the school. 

I'm the kind of parent who does fairly well at cuddling with the kids on the couch (which means that I don't get as much done around the house) and reading them some stories. I don't do as well with having compassion during the night when they keep getting up throughout the night. I don't mind it if they wake up with a legitimate need. I get frustrated when one of them keeps wanting attention and trying to get it in inappropriate ways. I also don't always do well at remembering to give them medicine when needed. Or taking them to the clinic for a follow-up. 

And I'm a little anxious about next week as my wife is going to be gone on a research trip all week out of state. Hopefully, everyone is back to good health by then and stays that way. But the track record from the last few weeks hasn't been a good one. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Playground Parent-Type Assessment

Yesterday we took advantage of the beautiful weather we had here and went to a park for a picnic. We ended up at Elm Creek Park Reserve just north of Maple Grove. We had been there this summer for swimming, but it was always too hot to play on all the metal of the new playground that was installed. So we headed up so the boys could play. Like many of the Three Rivers Park District playgrounds around us, this one was well done. It is the kind of playground you wish was around when you were a kid. Plenty to climb on and explore.

I've decided that playgrounds are a great place to assess what type of parent you are. I see many parents who hover over their children, warning them not to climb too high or slide too fast. If this is you, loosen up. You're way too protective. I understand the desire to protect your kids. And you should. But only from the real dangers out there. Playgrounds, while they may give their share of cuts and bruises and scrapes to kids, are not a real danger. More than protecting, our job as a parent is to prepare our kids for growing up and being on their own. So instead of warning them, encourage them. Let them try...and fail if need be. A bonk to the shin or a scraped hand will heal. You can teach them to not walk in front of a swing, but you don't need to hold their hand the whole time.

I see some parents who take their kids to the playground and ignore them. They sit on a bench and read a book or talk with a friend. Now, I understand the need for adult time if you're a stay-at-home parent. But if the trip to the park is your main time with your child(ren) that day, then pay attention to them. You may be the parent whose child had no boundaries because you feel guilty giving them any. They may be the playground bully--pushing kids, not waiting their turn in line, throwing sand, etc.--because they long for boundaries and for you to give them attention.

And you may be the parent who is right their with your child, encouraging them as they try something difficult that they haven't done before. Maybe you're right there on the play structure playing with your kids, having fun (and getting some exercise, too). Maybe you're sitting on a bench doing something relaxing after a hard day of work, but you're paying attention to where your kids are and what they're doing, responding to them with loving words. Children need a mix of boundaries and freedom, soft love and hard love (discipline). They also need attention from their parents; quality and quantity time is important.