Big

Owen is long. Tall. Stretched. Big.

His height is already threatening mine. Not quite to my shoulder, but close.

His heart is big too. I’m extremely proud of this boy.

He loves. His heart is not perfect, but he does love. He loves his God. He doesn’t always see Him in the people around him, but if I mention that he has mistreated or hurt someone God loves, and that it reflects his relationship with God, it melts him.

I am amazed at how sincere he is. How honest. How truly good his heart is.

Earlier this month, in conversation during play with his buddy across the street, he encouraged him to ask Jesus into his heart. This was not a new concept for Bradley, he’s been in church all his life, he just hadn’t prayed the prayer yet. Owen wanted him to take care of that. He suggested some wording and prayed with him.

He told me later, “mom, after he prayed, Bradley just couldn’t stop grinning.”

Neither could I.

He is his own. So many attributes of Kris and I, but so much only himself. I wonder at him at times and then other times, completely relate, understand and feel his joy and pain.

He reads as if his brain will starve without a book. He is hungry for story, for wonder, for mind adventure. I can’t keep up. I used to read everything that he reads. I read to be sure it’s all okay, but I can’t do it every time anymore. I have to trust, pray, trust and listen.

He leads quietly, he works faithfully, helping when asked, dutifully, the oldest child that does the right things. I can count on him. I hope for him. I worry, but I don’t worry scared. I worry cautiously. That I don’t take advantage, push too hard, expect too much. He rises to the expectation because he wants to do the right thing. He loves to be right. I want him to love being.

He grows fast. Not just on the outside.

It is so important to feed him well. Not just in his stomach.

Today I watched a video about healthy children. It pushed me to look close at what I do at home to keep my family well. I was with them until the end. “What is more important than your child’s health?” the voice said expectantly. Dangling my worth in front of me in crayon art of pears and apples. My spirit stiff armed the message. Wrong. There is so much more. The heart! Who will advocate the child’s heart? I wanted to toss the whole away. It looks so good, such a well made roof to keep the bad from falling on us, but it’s foundation is off, it cannot shelter me.

He and his brothers started training in karate this year. He surprises me at what he can do. His ability to remember, to perfect, to be precise. His instructors are patient, but honest and they suit him well.

School, church, karate, home, He does well. He has so much still to learn, but I am so confident in his eagerness and strength in learning. God has him tight. My heart is peaceful.

I am blessed.

An Off Day in Second Grade

This exchange happened after I received a note from Owen’s teacher and a downcast face from my boy about him showing off a bit with his friends.

Dear Mrs. Martin,

I wanted to write and apologize for Owen’s language and behavior today. I know that he is not in the habit of using unsavory language, nor would Kris or I allow him to. I do feel somewhat at fault for maybe not stressing the “badness” of the word He used. I don’t remember my exact words, but I know that we talked about that word and the fact that it’s in the Bible and what it used to mean. I am confident that I told him it is unacceptable though.

I had thought at first, partly due to his insistence that he was only saying it as it refers to a donkey, that he might actually be innocent. I asked him a lot of questions though, and the clincher for me was when I asked if he still would have said that word if you had been standing next to him. He admitted that he would not have said it.

I can only suspect that he was trying to impress or even shock the other boys by allowing it to escape his lips. I don’t know yet what his intent was

I also don’t know what was going on in the bathroom. Again, he said he wouldn’t have done whatever he did in the classroom or in mixed company. So he was indeed guilty, and full of the shame of it.

I don’t know what came over my boy today and I don’t know why it was all on teacher appreciation day. I’m sure that didn’t convey appreciation very well. I don’t know yet if there’s more I need to do, but I know that I’m thankful.

Thankful that he was mad at himself (not at the boy who told on him) after you talked with him. Thankful that you made a big deal about it and deducted points from his conduct sheet as well as punished him today. I’m thankful that I can send him out, away from me, and he is not just watched over, he is held up. Thank you for keeping the standard that I would myself.

It also gave me the opportunity to teach him 1 Thes. 5:22 and what the Bible says about avoiding evil. Even if he had done nothing wrong, even if his defense about not “meaning” the word in a bad way were completely true, it had the look and feel of “bad” and that’s not Christ like.

I had to write a similar note for Ivan’s teacher earlier this week. Not for poor language choices, thank goodness, but for repeated selfishness, which is what it usually boils down to for all of us. Oddly, I am not discouraged. I am pretty sure that God didn’t give me these fellas to simply enjoy, but to build up, correct and strengthen. How can I build up, correct and strengthen, if I don’t know where the flaws are?

Thank you again for everything you do in that classroom. I appreciate you and the school and all that goes into keeping our children safe and strong.

God Bless,
Mary Kelso

Her reply:

Mary,

First, let me say I LOVE YOU!! 🙂 Owen is the wonderful boy that he is because of the godly parents raising him!
Second, no apologize is needed because I was just happy to learn that Owen really isn’t perfect!:) His little heart was crushed when we were talking about how his actions had affected his witness for Christ. It was very evident that he loves his Lord and was very sorry for his behavior.
Third, have you ever considered teaching a parenting class? You would be wonderful at it and there are some parents that could benefit from your wisdom!
Thank you for making my day through your testimony as a Christian parent! I am blessed by you every time I speak with you!

All to His glory,

Renee

P.S, Please remember that I have raised three boys and am working on the fourth one. There is nothing a boy can do that I haven’t seen before!! 🙂

I love the “P.S.”

Quick Looks at Life with Owen

January 18, 2010: My kids sing a lot. They just sing whatever is on their mind. Just now I overheard Owen go from something about his toys to singing…”stop, drop and roll.” He repeated it a few times until the other two started singing along. Now I need to teach them the song, “clean up your toys.”

January 19, 2010: Owen’s take on sloppy jo’s for dinner: “They should call it messy jo’s, because it’s really messy.” Maybe he doesn’t know what sloppy means. ?

January 21, 2010: Yesterday afternoon Owen went out to play. When he came in his eyes were real wide and he said, “we were playing, but we came in because we just heard a big grouch of thunder.”

February 16, 2010: Owen (6) asked me where the couple figure skating are from. I said China and he asked, “oh…are any of them toy makers? because a lot of my toys are made in China.”

April 9, 2010: Ivan: what if somebody got as big as God? Owen: No one can be as big as God. Ivan: Why not? Owen: Because their head would stick right out of the earth and you can’t breathe in outer space.

April 24, 2010: I asked the boys what they wanted for dinner last night and Owen asked for Red Robin. I didn’t want to take all three of them to Red Robin by myself so I dissected his reasoning down to…corndogs. We got those at Walmart and everyone was happy. Sometimes you just gotta ask questions.

May 18, 2010: Yesterday Owen (6) took a tumble and muddied and scratched both knees and both elbows. He got up quickly and as we walked to get him cleaned up he announced, “see, I am a man, I didn’t even cry.”

September 3, 2010: I asked Owen (6) if he’d like to earn a quarter (for sweeping the kitchen floor) he said “no…that’s not what life is about…life isn’t about money.” I said, “is it about helping your family?” His yes landed him sweeping the kitchen floor for free.

October 9, 2010: My boys watched Bambi this morning. Wait it gets better. Owen was standing in front of the TV with the toy shotgun he got at his birthday party last night and shot at every furry creature he saw.

October 23, 2010: Owen (7), walking past a karate studio, asked his dad, “Can you use karate to kill a duck?”

November 1, 2010: After seeing a clip from Oprah where the audience members were arguing with her over religion, Owen (7) was trying to tell me about it and this was his description: “You know that show with all the girls that don’t work, and they talk to the news lady.”

December 19, 2010: I just scrubbed about 14 inches up my walls and floor trim and mopped my foyer and then threw Owen’s coat, gloves, socks, shoes and jeans, a big towel, a couple washrags, my socks and sweatpants and my front door mat in the wash. Any guesses as to what happened?

December 24, 2010: The sweetest words my 7 year old has ever said to me was yesterday afternoon while getting the house ready for visitors: “Mom, I’m done dusting, is there anything else you want me to do?”

January 1, 2011: We bought Owen a set of the first six Hardy Boys books for Christmas and he is more than halfway through the second book. I am halfway through the third one.

January 4, 2011: I can tell Owen’s back in school. There’s a pile of papers on the kitchen island that have no where to go.

January 24, 2011: Owen was up by 5:(something). He’s been quietly reading on the couch for an hour or so while the rest of us slept.

February 3, 2011: Owen’s flamingo animal project done at 8:10. He is giddy about finishing. I enjoyed watching him discover the joy of research, and then become a fan of his assigned animal just because he knows interesting things about it.

February 8, 2011: For the first time since Ivan was two weeks old (5+ years ago), Owen (7) has his own room. He was SO excited to go to bed tonight.

February 9, 2011 (Overheard in the van) Ivan (5): “I was the first one buckled and you were last!” Owen (7): Well, I’m glad because in the Bible it says the first shall be last and the last shall be first!” Then silence while Ivan contemplated this the rest of the way to school.

February 9, 2011: Owen (7) keeps using the word Romantic wrong. Ivan asked for some crackers and Owen said, “Yum, they’re so romantic.” A Princess Bride reference is coming to mind.

February 17, 2011: (From Owen’s first grade teacher) “No lunch for Owen today…he ate it all for snack at 9 this morning…this could explain why he was probably starving after school…I will remind him to save some from now on(:”

February 24, 2011: Me looking back into the house as we’re leaving: “Owen you left the hall light on.”
Owen (7): “Ah, that’s okay.”
Me: “No it’s not!”
Owen: “Oh, sorry mommy.”
Me: “Ah, that’s okay.”

March 1, 2011: The boys are bathed and ready for bed. Owen (7) is reading to Ivan (5) and Aron (3). Doesn’t get much better.

March 26, 2011: (Overheard)
Owen (7): “That’s not Karate Ivan…this is Karate.”
Ivan (5): Ugh…whimper
Owen: “See…Karate hurts.”

May 5, 2011: Owen (7) was telling me that there was a boy standing beside him during the worship service last night that was trying to distract him by hitting and kicking him a lot. He said, “I just kept on worshiping until he stopped…and sometimes mom, I was worshiping so hard water started coming out of my eyes.”

May 5, 2011: After church I usually ask the boys what they learned and often they shrug their shoulders and have nothing to say until I prod a little. There is always something that sticks (thanks Cornerstone Children’s ministry). Last night was about respecting elders so I finally asked Owen, “did you learn about old people?” he said, “Oh yeah…we learned they can really break-it-down.”

May 5, 2011:

May 9, 2011:

May 10, 2011:

June 2, 2011: Ivan (5): “I thought I’m not old enough to play this game?”
Owen (7): “Well you can do it, cause you’re smart.”
Ivan: “Oh, so it’s only for smart people and 7 and up?”

June 3, 2011: Aron (3): “Owen where does this piece go?”
Owen (7): “I’m not telling. It’s a puzzle and you have to figure it out or you’ll never be smart.”
Ivan (5): “I’ll tell him.”
Owen: “NO! If you tell him than someday he’ll be an adult and he’ll still be asking for help with everything.”

Unfair Treatment

Owen has been getting in trouble at school lately. Not big trouble. Not embarrassing trouble. Just a more frequent note home, time on the bench at recess or points taken away in class. When I ask him, he says he just gets distracted, he gets bored or my favorite…”they thought it was funny.” Apparently, his teacher didn’t think it was as funny as “they” did.

I’ve punished him at home. discussed options with his teacher and looked at it from different angles. Though I admit to being a little worried at first I am not anymore. He’s just exploring the boundaries again. I think we all do it at different stages and in different ways. I was so rarely in trouble in school that it shocked me to think of him misbehaving or causing problems. However, he’s not me and he’s a boy. It’s different for boys, because, well, they are boys I guess. They have to bang their heads against more walls for some reason. I don’t know.

I also admit to worrying over my parenting and whether I were overlooking something, but his teacher reassured me that he is a very good boy and that it has nothing to do with me. I like her.

One of his complaints since the beginning of this “getting in trouble at school” phenomenon is that one of the other boys is often doing the same thing and doesn’t get chastised nearly as quickly or severely.

I haven’t talked to his teacher about this, but I doubt it’s as different as he perceives it and even if it is…there’s a reason.

After asking a few questions about the other child and the things he did I felt I understood. I remember this same issue from when I was a kid. Another girl and I would be involved in the same activity and I would be scolded more harshly. It infuriated me as a kid, but I understand it now. It’s unfair treatment based on expectation levels.

I explained it to Owen as well. If you have been a well behaved child on almost all occasions and then suddenly act out of character, you will be punished quickly because it is well known that you can do better. Being disobedient is NOT who you are, and therefore discipline comes to correct the difference in your behavior. If you are a child that consistently misbehaves you will eventually be ignored and your punishments will be dealt with less disappointment. There is a differing expectation level between you and the other boy. The upside to this comes when something special happens. If there is an opportunity to handle a special project for the teacher or the class and you and the other boy are the only two available to do it, who will she choose? You, of course.

To my utter amazement, an example of what I was telling him happened the very next day.

Today, when I picked him up from school his teacher walked him to the van and explained that the National Day of Prayer would be observed on campus this week and each class is expected to have one student represent them with a prayer. She asked Owen to say the prayer for their class and he accepted the responsibility. (That’s my boy!) She also said that he had a very good day and didn’t get in trouble once. Yay!

I love it when God orchestrates circumstances and then makes it look like He’s backing me up.

A Room of His Own

Finally…it is done. He has moved into his own room. It didn’t happen the way mom wanted it to, but it happened.

Owen has been asking for his own space for almost a year and I wasn’t ready to move him. I didn’t feel he was ready to take care of his space and as long as I was picking up his dirty socks as well as his brother’s, I didn’t want to have to do it in two rooms. I told him this. I explained that when he could show me he was responsible enough to take care of his own room, I would allow it. He has shown improvement. Not as much as I was hoping, but I tend to set my sights pretty high.

My criteria also involved some changes that had nothing to do with him. I wanted the room painted, the old dresser that is literally falling apart from age and use, to be replaced. A different bed or set of beds for him is in the plans as well. Of course all of these things take money. Money that I could spend, but I have other things to spend it on as well. You know how that is right? It’s not always that money isn’t available, it’s that money has too many directions to take at one time. Well, that’s what’s going on here. Spending money to replace items that are still functioning is kind of low on the priority list. So we have been waiting for a while and finally, on Monday, he came to me and drug me into that room and he made his case, and I bought it.

I could have made the move right then. It only took about 45 minutes to get my things out of the desk and chest in the room, and move his dresser into it. I was beginning to feel emotional though. It makes me sad to see him move out of the room with his brothers. I made the excuse that I needed to wash the sheets on the bed in there (which was actually a good idea since Aron has been napping in there a lot) and told him we may be able to move him in the next day. He was happy with that.

While he was at school on Tuesday I cleaned my things out of the desk and found a box for the items I had stored in the cedar chest in there. I moved his hanging clothes and his little framed birth announcement. I hung a couple of his school projects on one wall and replaced the battery in the clock on the wall. I vacuumed and brought the clean sheets up to the bed and then I left it and waited for him to get home from school because I knew he wanted to help.

Once he was with me, we made the bed together and I told him he needs to know how to make it look nice himself. We moved his pillow pet, his pre-school nap pillow and his favorite blanket into the room and then collected all his “treasures.” He has little boxes of trinkets and broken items that are what he calls “special” and we found a place for all of it. I moved his dresser while he arranged his books and together we dusted things and made it look moved into. He was so excited, and I was glad I had waited one day so that I could be excited with him.

That one day gave me time to mourn the loss of three little boys in one room. A happy little mess of short people on bunk beds with their names and artwork plastered on the walls. Not a room about one, but a room about them. I love them together and though I believe with all my heart that they will always be friends, I also know with a broad clarity that there is only a short time in life that they will be brothers the way they are now. They are going to, all three, go their own way. They will follow the destiny and commission that God has ordained for them and it will be wonderful to see them follow those paths with confidence and determination, but I will miss this. I will miss the every day, the every night, the squabbles and giggles and whispers and whines. I know Owen is only moving into the next room. Logic tells me it’s really no different, but somehow…it is. I’m thankful there is a next room before there is a dorm room or apartment. Baby steps are good for mom’s to take too.

This morning he was up but sitting on the floor, still in his pajamas and wrapped in his bathrobe, reading by the lamp before breakfast. He had made his bed all by himself and it looked great. It’s funny how little it takes to make what, to me, was a very empty colorless room feel cozy. A great 7 year old is a good start.

Young Warrior

Owen is asleep on the couch. He is in such a stage of growth and maturity right now. His 7 years are strained by the wisdom he displays at times. He often melts my heart with his insights and concern for others.

Other times he just acts goofy and I know he’s not ready to move out on his own any time soon.

Today I watched him calm my frustration. His poor tummy had him all twisted up and I had no idea he was sick until he came pummeling up the front steps and threw himself against the front door unable to open it fast enough and crying loudly enough for me to hear him and run to his aid. I got the door open and was able to almost finish the sentence, “What’s wrong?” when he stuck his head as far into the foyer as possible and “spilled the graham crackers” all over my floor.

I was stunned. I knew that I should feel bad for him, that he probably needed some sympathy, but all I could say was, “It’s okay to do that in the grass, you know.”

I spent the next 20 minutes mopping up, wiping down, and inspecting everything within three yards of impact for splashes and smudges. It wasn’t pleasant, but every time I felt the frustration getting the better of me he would come around the corner and say something. First it was, “I ate too much junk food mom. That’s all. I don’t need to eat any more junk food tonight because I had too much at the party on Friday. It’s just really hard to say no. I mean, at first it’s just soooo good and then, well…” He nodded as if I knew exactly what that “well” should mean. Of course I did.

Then as I’m loading my front door mat, his shoes, my pants and socks, his jacket and gloves and a few other splattered items into the washer he came up behind me and announced, “my temperature is 96.7 mom. What does that mean?” He had the ear thermometer and was taking his temperature to make sure he didn’t have a fever.

Then while I was looking for another laundry basket he told me that he’s just going to put his pajamas on since he might want to lay down. When I finished mopping the foyer I found him curled up on the couch, completely out.

A bit of calm and respect came over me as I realized that as aggravating as it is to clean up that mess, to smell that smell, to wish I could have told him sooner to just leave that outside, I was blessed. This little man had taken care of himself. Yes, he still needed me to pick up the messy pieces, but he had looked the situation over and found a way to walk himself into the warmth of clean clothes, a cozy blanket and the rest that he needed without any assistance from me at all.

I am pretty proud of my young warrior tonight.

Thanksgiving Recipe

Owen’s school invited the younger classes to write Thanksgiving recipes for a contest over Thanksgiving week. Owen is out of school this week and will miss out on all the festivities planned for his class, but I encouraged him to write his recipe even though he would not be part of the contest.

My Thanksgiving Recipe – By: Owen Kelso

Get a 100 lb. turkey, cut it up into drum sticks.

Take out the fat.

Get some corn on the cob, take the corn off.

Blend the turkey fat up with the corn.

Get some potatoes, and some butter, cut up the potatoes.

Mix it up with the corn and turkey fat.

Cook it in the oven at 300 degrees.

Grab some pizza to eat separately.

That’s just for people who don’t like the turkey.

It will probably turn out like dough, so we could probably just make cookies out of it.

But that could just be a surprise.

Going Bananas II

Where was I?

Oh yes…Sunday.

On Sunday afternoon Kris and I took the boys and Bananas to the greenway. Owen pushed the monkey in the stroller and I snapped pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. I won’t bore you…with all of them.

It was such a nice day and the scenery was beautiful…but I’ll save some of those pictures for my blog. This is about Owen…mostly.

Our instructions were to bring Bananas back to school on Tuesday. That gave us Monday to print some pictures and create a bit of a narrative for his scrap book. I procrastinated waited until I picked Owen up from school so that he could help. We snipped and cut and got all creative and I came to the conclusion that I will NEVER scrap book in real life. I get way too involved. I didn’t intend to go crazy…but who does?

So here are my very first and very last scrap pages for your viewing pleasure.

All in all, having a fake pet in the house was a fun experience. I know Owen really enjoyed it. He’s a great kid.

Going Bananas

Each of Owen’s classmates gets the opportunity to bring home the class pet for a weekend. Owen has been waiting patiently for his turn and finally Bananas the monkey got to ride home in our van last Friday.

He had a blast.

I had a very busy weekend so I was hoping Owen wouldn’t be too disappointed in my lack of time for pictures and playtime. Part of the deal is doing something unique with Bananas that can then be shared in the scrap book that comes home with him. Bananas has traveled, flown in helicopters, ridden in boats and spun in the washing machine. He has been to the zoo multiple times, he’s gone to ball games and he is faithful to go to church every single week. That’s a lot of pressure.

If you know me, you know I have a tiny little competitive streak in me that likes to find a way to out-unique others. I don’t mean to do it always, sometimes it’s just my innate desire for something different, I see the world as full of opportunities and creativity…God has more ideas than we’ve begun to tap into…ask Him for some. That’s what I do. However, I do admit to now and then trying to push the limits of all things clever for the sheer joy of hearing “how did you come up with that?” I’m not proud of that, but I might as well just admit it. I’m sure some of you already knew that about me. I’ve known some of you way too long.

I don’t like factory produced, available to anyone artwork, or the standard on almost anything. I want uniquely me, uniquely mine and preferably created by me whenever possible. Is that wrong? It sounds a little selfish when I write it out, but somehow I’ve justified it for years. We can discuss it over some homemade bread (my own recipe that I refuse to share), on my hand-painted plates, next to the curtains I designed and on the table I plan to re-make into an entry way art piece. Just kidding.

Anyway…back to Bananas and Owen. Owen played with that monkey like it was a little baby he was watching. He changed it’s clothes and took it with him everywhere. As soon as we got home from school he made sure Bananas had a cookie.

Friday night we went shopping and he made sure that a camera was available at all times so that we could chronicle Bananas’ adventures. Kris took Owen and Bananas to Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Saturday I was hosting a Baby Shower at the church. I knew I would be gone all morning and I also had plans for the evening with a friend. I had this planned long before we knew we were hosting Bananas so it couldn’t be helped. I was afraid that Owen would be stuck at home and have nothing to show for his time with Bananas because of all this but I forgot how creative my husband can be. Saturday morning the boys and Kris played with Legos and Kris built a throne for Bananas to sit in. They played “Hide-n-go-Bananas!” and Kris took pictures of all of it. Even at lunch, he prepared an extra corn dog just for Bananas. They slept together at nap time and watched a movie on the couch together in the afternoon. It wasn’t all that unique in terms of a wildly exciting outing, but it was different than anything Bananas had been photographed doing before. Especially that chair! I was pretty proud of my boy’s daddy for that one.

On Sunday we did NOT take Bananas to church. I set him up to watch the service online. Not really. But there has been a rule put in place by our children’s pastors at church regarding toys brought in to Sunday school. Just too much distraction with so many kids. We didn’t even ask if Bananas could be an exception. I was a little sad by that because I thought a picture of Bananas going down that huge slide in the indoor playground at what I affectionately refer to as “Chuck-E-Church” would be really fun. But we didn’t want to cause any issues, so we left Bananas at the house.

Post to be continued. I need to make dinner.