Six

Six kids means you’ll see more birthday posts, and today’s birthday boy happens to be six himself. I’m liking the idea of a birthday haiku for each kid, and in fact will need to backfill for two others and write two more still before the year is out. But for our toast-loving young man of the hour:

Strawberry jelly
And such imagination
Make you player one

Happy birthday the little guy who lives in his own great big world.

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A haiku for Mary’s Birthday

Here’s to Miss Mary
My little philosopher:
Old soul and young heart.

Today she’s with her dad celebrating her twelfth birthday. In some ways it seems she’s been thirty something since she first learned to talk. In other ways she’s delightfully young, unscathed by society and its expectations.

Twelve terrifies me. I remember how incredibly difficult that year was for me. But Mary is strong.

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I know she’ll change. I know teen years are terribly hard. But she will get through. May she continue becoming the wonderful person she’s always been!

(A little speech about life, from nearly half her lifetime ago)

Math

Last night Ethan and Mary started working with the littles on math. We got quite a bit of joy out of hearing the five year old grok questions like these: “So, if there are fifteen oranges in each bag, and you have zero bags, how many oranges do you have?”

And when our eight year old girl, who struggled with math last year, smugly asked, “What if there are seven oranges in each bag, and you don’t know how many bags there are?? How many oranges then?” … it was a glorious thing to see Ethan graph the solution, and watch her eyes grow wide with wonder and understanding.

I’d like to see more of that. So in addition to rebooting pebbles, we are rebooting out old math games as well. The ensuing conversation in this morning’s meeting made me laugh:

Me: “I’d also like to play some math games with you, so math can become easy and fun for you.”

R: “Awee… do we have to do math every second?”

E: “No, not every second. Otherwise you’d be doing math sixty times per minute, and 3,600 times per hour…”

I lol’d.

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Responding in Relationships

This morning I read an awesome article about the importance of kindness in relationships. This part in particular struck a chord with me:

How someone responds to a partner’s good news can have dramatic consequences for the relationship.

Graphing your responses on a quadrant of passive vs. active and constructive vs. destructive, where do your typical interactions lie?

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You’d think people who care about each other would avoid actively destructive responses. It happens a lot though, especially if one spouse is jealous or anxious: “You got accepted to your program? How are we going to pay for that!?” Or, “Ugh! Why do you get all the luck? I’m sick of you being happy all the time!” That doesn’t sound like your relationship? Good.

But passivity is a thing too. Consider the silent eye rolls, the averted glances, and refusals to acknowledge each other.

Even being passively supportive isn’t great for relationships, because it’s a bid for connection that gets missed. An “ehhh, that’s nice” is a bit like the emotional equivalent of offering a handshake or a hug, and being given a nod or a wink instead. Think about how that feels!

And we’d think, “I never do that!” But how often are we just too zoned out to even realize our love or even our child is trying to connect?

So what to do instead? What if you are listening but the news doesn’t really excite you that much? Do we have to fake it in order to be actively constructive? No.

Surely it’s possible to find genuine joy in their happiness, isn’t it? How about responding to such attempts to connect with a big hug and a, “You look so happy!”

It’s something to think about. :)

PS: The geek in me sacrificed much by leaving out its convoluted analogies of proper modem handshakes, ACK, etcetera. You’re welcome.