Seems summers were always particularly busy for the Clarksons--is it that way in your house, too? Everyone going their own way on a different time schedule and needing a car or a ride somewhere. We had five drivers in our home one summer--which made us two cars short! This week, we have had 7 drivers and only 3 cars so we had to rent a car for a couple of days. That is what we get for having 4 living overseas! So getting everyone up, figuring out who is going to take who to work, and what we are going to eat was quite a project those summer mornings and still is, at times, because everyone wakes up at a different time.
The deep pleasure of having all or even most of my children at home, though, is worth the trouble. When they are young, a mom feels her children may never grow up. Yet, my children grew up to become my best adult friends and soul mates, so each moment is cherished and recorded in my mind as a memory to revisit when I am lonely.
Many sweet moms have written me to ask, "What do you do when all the kids at your table are rude, crude, and just make messes all the time--like 3 under 5?" I had that season of life, too. Different expectations come with different seasons. Yet, training children comes even when they are very young.
When we say, "Tell Daddy what you did today!" Or, "What was the best part of your day and the worst part?" Even little questions help a little one to begin to see themselves as someone who is expected to engage in conversation and have something to say--especially when parents engage and act interested. Have dinner ready when the little ones are hungry. they do not need gourmet, they just need to eat before their blood sugar goes down and they become whiny. Or give them some little bit of protein if they start going downhill.
Teach children, little by little, what you think is appropriate for "Table voices" (quieter voice, no crudity allowed!) I had to take my own kids away from the table many times when they were little to say, "Our table is a place where all of us belong and want to be friends. If you can't be kind, you may eat by yourself in your room. It is your choice. Can you choose to be kind to your brother? (or whatever minor violation was done.
For very littles, you just begin to verbalize the expectations you want to enter into--"Mom loves it when we can all be together. We belong to one another. Mama loves her little boy."All of these ways are building an expectation for a time when your children will be able to use more self-control, enter into conversation, set the table. Little by little it comes. And then you will find they eventually love table time.
Because of so many years of our being "at table" together, night after night, morning after morning, we built a very strong family culture, sometimes even when we did not think our sweet ones were even paying attention.
Now, we "get" each other's idealism, love the same flavor of tea and share in mutually favorite musicians and books, and have stimulating discussions every night, the deep intimacy that is shared with no one else in the world in a similar way. This is what makes these moments, however busy, priceless. I feel so very blessed to share in such happy friendships, even amidst so many dirty dishes, more messes and lots of frenzy.
Joy, though, brings a special happy/melancholy depth to my heart. She is my baby, my last one, the child of my forties grown into a lovely young woman. And so, I wanted to document each morning before she went off to her responsibilities. One summer, twice a week, she served as a leader of 12 junior high aged girls in a morning program designed to build godliness in the lives of these precious ones. Using her own money, she has been meeting each of these girls alone at Starbucks to invest in them personally and to hear their hearts.
No matter what else is pulsing around me, I awakened her each morning with a china mug of steaming hot Yorkshire Gold tea. Making breakfast for her as she spends a few last moments in bed is a gift I gave to her and to me. It was a time to pray for her, love her, and prepare her for her day ahead. She may not know how much of my heart went into these times that I know, from experience, would be gone too quickly.
Most days, I made some kind of egg with toast or muffin, sometimes a little grated cheese on top like our own version of egg mcmuffin. But occasionally on early days, we revive a Clarkson (from Clay!) favorite.
Banana, Peanut Butter (or almond butter) and honey toast
Homemade or bakery bought whole wheat bread, toasted. A little dab of butter melted on the hot toast, spread with peanut butter, sliced bananas, drizzling honey over the bananas to be sure each bite receives a taste of the golden sweetness and finally a bit of cinnamon suger sprinkled on top, to make it prettier. This served in bed with her mug of tea made getting out of bed a possibility some slow mornings!
It is not about food being complicated, it is about friendship and closeness being real every day.
Funny how when they are tiny, you hope and hope they will stay in bed just a few more moments. Yet, before you know it, they will stay in bed every extra minute possible and then too quickly dash off to life. Oh to hold on to these moments and appreciate each one given as a favor from God.
Plan a fun breakfast treat for your sweet ones and yourself, sometime this weekend!
Be sure to order your copy of my new book so you can engage with Kristen and me in a 6 week book study about the discipleship principles in the book. Be sure to sign up for my email list to be eligible to win our prizes on launch night.
Episode #98 Communication Skills for Mentoring Well
If you missed Kristen and me earlier this week, now you can finally catch the podcast after we've solved a few glitches! We hope you'll join us as we discuss the 4 principles of interpersonal communication and how meaningful our words (and lack of words) are to our children. Listen below: