Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I had a friend in college whose high school English teacher nicknamed Pearl because every time my friend opened his mouth, the teacher explained, a pearl of wisdom dropped out. That story would not have charmed me the same way if 1) my friend were not a guy and 2) not a total socialist/anarchist/misanthrope who was also very funny but in a quiet and overlooked kind of way. But even after all those years (and it has been far too many) I cannot help but think of that little anecdote every time I feel I have stumbled upon my own pearl of wisdom. Most of my pearls are really obvious ones that others consider simply common sense parts of their ways and days, but I am alas laboring at the base of my organizational/parenting/acting like an adult pyramid and treasure other people's basic essentials.

Today Andrew refused, once again, to get out of bed. We were so late to school that we were almost also late to Will's first day of soccer practice which started an hour after Andrew's school did (and which I wanted to skip because it is outside and way too cold but that cursed little thing is so smart and remembered that I had told him the other day that he would start soccer on Wed and he got dressed in a track suit that would be "the perfect outfit to wear!" to his event. So we went. And the practice ended with bubble blowing, just saying.) I get so frustrated with Andrew over his inability to just get up and get dressed in a reasonable amount of time. Suddenly it came to me like a bolt of lighting that he just needed to go to bed way earlier (see paragraph above, final sentence). I put him in bed by 8 most nights but there are plenty of nights in there where I let him stay up to see Brigham or to cram in a reading lesson or extra reading time, because those things are important. But not, I realized this morning, as important as him getting enough rest to awake by 8 without the terrible trouble we experience most mornings.

So I decided this morning that he would go to bed very early tonight. Yes, it started out as a punishment, but then I saw the real wisdom in it. Simply by making his bedtime a rigid point on the clock, regardless of other circumstances, we could start out our days on the right foot for everyone. How easy, and yet it took me so long to figure out this simple solution to a chronic (really, daily) problem. At 7:30 tonight both boys were in bed and the baby was on his way. And an image of Mel Gibson with blue face paint and long hair immediately flooded my mind.

Another pearl I discovered this week was how to take a big step forward with Will's eating troubles. My friend was talking with me about it and she caused me to have a real breakthrough. Again, it should have been so obvious to me already, but I think I was sort of lost in a forest of too much medical information. No doctors have really thought, at this point, that Will had a medical condition causing him to refuse to eat. "If I have to give a name, I call it: Sensitive Boy Syndrome," my Thai pediatric GI concluded happily. But my friend had witnessed little Will vomit twice in as many days after willingly eating a very minimal amount of food and some of her remarks and observations led to me reexamine the conclusion that there is nothing medically wrong with Will. I knew that Will suffered from chronic stomach irritation caused by excessive acid in his stomach, but that was the only physical symptom ever found, and it was sort of ignored by the doctors. But the fact was that Will told me his stomach hurt when he eats and that his tummy tells him to stop. There is just no way to train a kid to eat when it hurts his body to do so. He is not some 16 year old cheerleader trying to lose weight; he is a little boy who has struggled since he was a baby. All the clues seemed to point to GERD. I began feeding him a special GERD diet (unfortunately it is a low-fat diet in addition to being low-acid) and he has gone from vomiting every other day and refusing food at all meals to eating mostly normal sized meals and drinking all his milk (6 oz). I will see what the doctor thinks on Friday.

One big failure of mine is that I have not been faithfully keeping a food journal for Will. I have a lot of excuses (we moved, I have a baby to care for, meal times are hectic and overwhelming etc) but the bottom line is that none of them are good enough to pardon it. I just need to do it.

It made me think about how my dad said that in the Marine Corps there are no justifiable reasons for failing to accomplish a task. You were either too lazy or too stupid and you were forced to admit to which. He has basically lived his life according to that principle, and once taught a Priesthood lesson on home-teaching using the too lazy-too stupid concept. The men tried to come up with a circumstance in which their home teaching neglect could be something other than their being too lazy or dumb, but at the end of the day the only justifiable reason was coma or death. What a great lesson, and my dad is a great guy to teach it since he happens to be a very nice person who everyone likes. They probably felt shocked that he told them they were too lazy or stupid to do their hometeaching, but I guess it was okay because he just made them see it (and say it) for themselves. Pearl. It still makes me laugh to think of some of the exchanges that went down in that lesson (my dad wrote me about it on my mission) and how my dad would ask, after being told that the failed home teacher explained that he was in the hospital, whether he didn't pick up the phone and call because he was too stupid to think of it or too lazy to do it. Double pearl!

I count it also as a pearl to realize that for me most of the time my stupidity and laziness are rivers that flow from the same ocean. Or into the same ocean. Or something like that. You know, symbiotic etc etc etc.

I am reading a parenting book that is going to change our lives and my children's future therapy needs. Brigham says that these books I read are just common sense, which is true. But common sense so easily flies out the window when everyone is naked, the house is a wreck and I am late. Basically, the bottom line is that as the parent you need to remain in control of your kids, in control of the situation and in control of yourself. If you lose self-control, you have lost the battle already. This is not new to me, but I need constant refreshers. This week, week the first after reading From Chaos to Calm, has been a really good one. It has been good to just look at each problem and trouble shoot it without letting the significance of why or what it will lead to spin out of control. Andrew is a pain in the morning, so put him to bed earlier and move on. No need to yell or get angry, just need to get him more time to sleep. Also, I need more time to sleep.

Well, it is nine o'clock which means I better go grocery shopping! Seriously. "But that's okay!" (Will's signature line circa 2009). It occurred to me today that Andrew's "I have a nice idea!" bit has fallen out of his phraseology. Sad. On the bright side, does that mean he will soon forget that unfortunate word I used in front of him that one time(s)?


Troy and Nancee Tegeder said...

"FREEDOM!!!"...and where did you move?

Holly said...

I really can't get enough of your writing. As I'm reading I realize that I'm captivated and you're just talking about your kids' sleeping/eating habits!

We miss you and your crazy boys!

terrah said...

It was only about a year ago that I had my morning routine epiphany. I was having such a hard time getting the girls dressed, brushing their teeth, and doing their hair.... by the end of each day. Finally I realized we could do all of those things in the same trip and both girls at the same time. Who would have guessed???

I think it is nice to read parenting books as refreshers. Even if they are all common sense, I can use the advice differently handling different stages . Alas, it is much easier to check those books out from the library instead of reading them!

Sarah said...

A great post, Alexandra! I love the too stupid-too lazy story. That is so true, and I am guilty of both in so many areas of my life. We're hitting a rough patch with Benjamin right now too- control issues, ignoring, meltdowns, flat out disobedience...I should check that book out. It sounds like it's full of useful pearls.
I can't wait to see you tomorrow! I'm so glad you're able to come, even if you'll be a little bit later! Good luck with your appointment.

Michelle said...

oh my gosh! Did you figure out Will's stuff?! I am hoping and praying that you figured it out. I loved this post. So true that another friend of your said it is "captivating". It really is!
The lazy / stupid story is good...although it makes me realize how lazy and stupid I am! haha!

I loved your comment on my blog the other day. It makes me miss you so badly. How's the new house?! I can't wait to come and see it! You tell me the day!
love you!

Erin said...

I am ordering that book tonight!

I have been all over the place lately and it is frustrating. I don't know what I am doing!!!

Always love your posts and hearing your thoughts Alexandra.

Eliza said...

Too stupid or too lazy--I love it. Filing that one away.

I have been thinking for quite a while now that my kids need to go to bed earlier. Seriously they are rarely in bed before 9 and often not asleep before 10...two years ago or even a year ago I would hardly have recognized myself in this lax, lax parenting stage I am currently in. (I hope it's a stage anyway)

Instead of doing anything about my hunch, I have been enjoying sleeping in (we all do, well except Matt) and just flat-out being late to everything, and quite unapologetically for that matter.

But I did declare the other day that we were going to have the kids at a 7:30 bedtime by June. Since I won't be sleeping in anymore after the baby comes, and since it would really probably improve everyone's quality of life to have earlier bedtimes all around, there's really no point in letting them stay up. Except so they can see their dad, which is always nice, but maybe knowing they're in bed by 7:30 will motivate him to come home from work earlier. ha :)

Tara, Doug, Isaac, and Lucy said...

Lovin' the pearls.