The Penguin and The Belle

I know it seems cliche’, but pass the Kleenex 


I’ve always been the strong one. That weird parent, that other than my strange over protectiveness, I really have never gotten emotional at the “normal” emotional milestones for parents. The first birthday I was just happy to have made it to with my hair, the first steps, first words, unfortunately I don’t have a specific memory on because of the crazy stress of insignificant things. Although the past three years have presented so many challenges and emotional stressors for me, it also has provided a wonderful opportunity for my penguin and I to build a strong, unique bond. 

This momentous day, that happens every year, and for parents with multiple children it happens more than once, is happening to me tomorrow. Yes, I know it is not me, but I’m an emotional wreck. I’m trying to keep it together for her because she is so excited. But it’s bedtime, and she just whispered into the monitor, “I’m a little norvous about big school tomorrow.” Boy am I glad that’s not a two way camera. I tried to choke back the tears and press the mic to reply, “it’s okay, you’ll be great.”

This is my penguin. This is the start of it. I will make it, we will make it. But, yes, I am bringing the Kleenex and doubling up on the meds.

Is her kindergarten my eighth grade?

Always reach high my strong willed child


Eating solid foods. Crawling. First steps. First words. Just a few milestones a parent looks forward too and remembers about their children. I have the pivotal one coming up that starts in motion the rest of her life. I know that may sound dramatic, even for me, but as I think about it, I don’t know how else to explain the importance. Kindergarten. Then I realize, my mini me, the almost 6 year old version of myself, sees kindergarten as I saw starting eight grade. And, that makes me sad. And, that makes me excited.

Starting kindergarten for me was no big deal in this rural southern town. At least I don’t remember it being an issue. At that time there was no choice where you went, if you lived in one county you went to School A, if you lived in the adjoining county you went to School B. I already knew many of the children I would be in school with, either from daycare/preschool or church. It didn’t hurt that my daddy was principle at the middle school at the time either I guess. So for the next 8 years (1st grade-7thgrade and kindergarten) I went to school with the same children. Even if we moved up a grade we only went to a slightly bigger school with children who had been at our old school the previous year. There was no anxiety about not knowing the lay of the land. No anxiety about a sea of new scary faces. Until the end of 7th grade. At that time, 8th grade was at the High School, which meant I had 4 months between me and an entire school with 4 whole grades of new people. Older people. Some, like the juniors and seniors, we’re so much older our paths had never crossed paths in other schools before. Scared? I spent the summer outlining reasons why I should be homeschooled. I did not want my independence and free spirit that my class since kindergarten had been accustomed too, to become the punch line for lunch room mean girls table talk. I also knew I didn’t ‘look’ the part. I didn’t particularly want to, and further more I knew I never would. But, of course I made it through high school. I have some bumps, bruises, and scars to help me remember, and that’s okay.

What if, when my precious, free spirited penguin looks at me and says “mama, I am a little norvous about big school”, she feels the same anxiety on some level? I know it seems I’m reaching deep for this one, and yes, it’s perfectly normal for a child to be somewhat apprehensive about a new school. Stay with me though. She has only been to daycare/preschool and church with the same group of children. Now, in the same rural town I grew up in, there are two private schools to choose from which have become quite popular among the parents. My penguin knows that some children went to a different Pre-K and come to her school for after school care. She realizes that not all of these ‘friends’ of hers, and children who know her ways are going to be going to school with her in a few weeks. To top it all off, I have to keep reminding her of all of the horrible things that don’t happen in kindergarten. No changing clothes just because you dribbled water on your shirt at the water fountain (yes, I know we have some ‘issues’), no going to the bathroom on a moments notice which   also means you can’t have ‘accidents’ because you can’t change clothes. And….no naps!!! So yes, my all the world’s a stage, aka her stage, penguin is standing in front of this milestone with quite possibly some of the same apprehension I had about high school. 

It’s okay baby penguin. I know more now and I know what I should have told myself then. That works out well for you since you were made from my mold. I’ll guide you as the older version of yourself and I will teach you and love you like only your mother can. We’ve got this. You. Me. Together. Let’s jump over the milestone ready to see what waits. 

Yes, but you’ve never raised a strong willed penguin…

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Wasting time on Facebook today, I came across a shared post by Becky Thompson titled To The Momma Of The Stong-Willed ChildI smiled, not sure if I should share the post with an “I love you” to my mama, or if I should read it for tips on the miniture version of my strong-willed self. I have read Becky Thompson before and am quite fond of her writing. She has a soothing way about her words that when I read them I just feel as if I am in a fuzzy blanket and everything is calm. Since I am facing my eleven day stretch without my husband, and have the strong-willed penguin to face once I get home, I decided I should read the post. I could probably use the encouragement.

The post starts off with “I can’t remember where I saw you last”. I immediately think, oh no! she saw me last weekend on the sidewalk at Wal-Mart just after the penguin climbed a ladder in a store. Probably not my finest moment as a mom, but not the last moment like that either since I have a long time to go with this strong-willed penguin (just ask my mama, I’m almost 37).  Becky went on to write this, and this is where the fuzzy blanket feeling comes out:

You know, it takes a special kind of momma to raise a strong-willed child. It takes a certain endless amount of grace to continually define the lines of what is and isn’t acceptable all while little hearts ceaselessly push back. It’s hard work defining the same boundaries a million times a day.

I know that it’s exhausting.

I know that most days you worry that you’re not capable of handling this job.

Did you feel it? That warm feeling when you read the words “special kind of momma”? I felt like I had won a medal when she acknowledged “I know that it’s exhausting”.  I did think of my mama and how much we pushed and pulled with one another. I thought that even thought she acknowledged I was a strong-willed child, she was just as strong-willed and determined so it was a constant battle. I on the other hand take a different approach with raising my spirited (someone used that term instead of strong-willed the other day, as if strong-willed was a bad thing) penguin. I pick my battles. Because she is the EXACT version of me at five years old, I know what she is thinking, what she is feeling. So as the parent I choose what I battle with. This doesn’t mean she isn’t respectful and unruly. This simply means that I don’t always have to win because I am the parent.

This next part though. Oh, it just made my heart smile.

The truth is, what they are really good at is knowing their own mind – not being easily deterred – confidently proclaiming exactly what they want and how they want it done.

Deep down, we know that this is a good thing. Mommas of strong-willed children know that the traits that make most days feel endless, also mean that our children will also grow up to be motivated, determined, leaders.

Oh I just smiled again as I posted it into here. My mama has to be glad that started as a strong-willed child and grew into a strong-willed woman. I know I hope that for my penguin. I think of all the bumps and holes I have hit a long this journey of life and know that my stubborn determination is what made me get through. I see my penguin taking her own turns and twist and hope and pray that the strength and willingness she has today carries her through those times when she just has to push through. Do my days feel endless? Have you read my post about the carousel? I don’t even know day to night most of the time, especially during the 11 day stretch my husband is gone. But, do I have a motivated, determined penguin? Absolutely!

And this last prayer that Becky ended with is the one I pray for any and all

May you find yourself with grace to spare at the end of the day… as you prepare for another day of raising greatness again tomorrow.

I am so glad that wasting time on Facebook led me to this post. I have not posted on here in awhile simply because of all that strong-willed penguin has me involved in. My time is her time you see, and I have found it difficult to find any time to express the emotions or words of myself or Penelope for we are both too busy chasing after her.

 

 

Fairy Tales & Magic

  

 

This will not be a long post. I am coming out of a week long hibernation courtesy of an awful sinus infection. However, after the important conversation with the Penguin this morning, I did feel it was important to address this important topic. Fairy tales and magic. 

As an adult I may have become slightly jaded to the idea of the White Knight. But, I will not let the 5 year old penguin loose out on the innocence of believing in such things. The conversation started because I offered to use “mommy magic kisses” to help an ant bite not sting . The penguin replied, “magic isn’t real”. 

Pause. Gasp. Hand on my hips as the door to the mini van was automatically sliding closed, I find myself shouting, “you have to believe in magic. Magic and fairy tales”. The door is closed and I continue my speech as I climb in the driver’s seat. 

“Why don’t you believe in magic? You have to believe. What about Cinderella?” 

“Cinderella not magic mommy. The fairy godmother ….”

“And what do you think the fairy godmother uses?”

Pause. “Magic”

“What about Elsa, and the ice?”

“Magic”

“Okay, so you believe in magic”

“Yeah, I guess you are right”

Whew. My heart is relieved. She will learn the truth soon enough. I don’t want to keep her “little” or “innocent” forever as it may seem. But she is 5 years old!!! She is supposed to be little and innocent. In a world where everyone is in a hurry for everything, it is my responsibility as her mama to make sure she believes in fairy tales and magic. There is no need to hurry this.  

The Penguin and The Belle 

  
**August 21, 2015
The Belle: “My hand still smells like poop.” The Penguin: “Maybe you touched your butt.”
The Penguin: “Gizmo not listen and obey to daddy. She keeps running away.”
The Penguin: “Mommy, you know you not get pug today.” The Belle: “I know, but why not?” The Penguin: “You only get pug on Saturdays.”

The Belle: “I think you are sleepy, look at those eyes.” The Penguin: “Look! At my eyes now. You not say that about my eyes anymore. Look how they are now, open.”

New Weekly Feature……(I hope)

So for all of you Southern Belle fans out there, and who am I kidding, there are MILLIONS, I just HAD to give you more of  my charm and sense of humor by adding in a tiny element. My mini me. The penguin. That’s right, I hope to have a weekly post about that crazy little penguin and her musings of the week, which usually aren’t that far off from mine. So stay tuned because she loves caffeine as much as her mama (shut it now anyone who want to criticize) and we both have Penelope and Pennie to help us with our material.

I told her this morning not to call our American Bulldog a “dog”. I whispered in my best “mom is crazy whisper”…..”Don’t tell Spazz she is a dog. She doesn’t know it and it hurts her feelings. You can only call her Bulldog.” The penguin looks at me and says, “okay, we won’t tell her. Bulldog, let’s go……” then turns to look at me and says, “mommy you are so silly”.

Why yes, yes I am.