Friday, November 30, 2012

This Is What They Love...

Who needs gates?

 On a rainy Saturday morning about 3 weeks ago, Clay and Cole woke us up at 5:30am to say they were headed out to the pond for duck hunting.  They had gotten up half an 
hour or so before that...not even a hint of daylight in the sky...packed their gear
and were ready to roll.  I turned over in bed, so happy to be right there where it was 
warm and dry and I could hear the rain falling all around.   
Drifting back to sleep, I thought to myself, 
"This is what they love."

Elmer Fudd style...

 Yesterday afternoon, Cole jumped in the car at the end of school.  "Mom, I'm going to jump shoot the pond!  Come with me!"  The next minutes of the drive between school and home were spent studying fields and ponds between the 2 places...talking waterfowl species...practicing each of the 4 duck calls hanging from around his neck.  The little 
brother sat in back, listening as the big one spoke and taking it all in.  
As I listened, I thought to myself,  
"This is what they love."

About now, I'm plugging my ears...

Looking back about 10 years, I began shuttling around a sweet little blond haired, 
blue eyed boy and his baby to indoor soccer and outdoor soccer, story time at the library, horse riding lessons, then tae-kwon-do and t-ball.  In a few years, I'd add some cooking, swim, and piano lessons...up a league from t-ball to baseball...don't forget basketball, too.  The list gets longer.  As each of the 3 little ones grew, so did their minds, and their likes and dislikes.  
One day I finally paid attention to the talk from the back seat.  
 As we drove all over the place, I asked myself, 
"Is this what they love?"

Ears still plugged...
So I took Cole up on his jump shooting invitation.  He talked, then whispered...a mile a we approached the pond.  I pretended to listen, but this is what was running through my head - 

Why would I spend time coercing and convincing these young ones to love what they don't?  I don't feel too shoved in any direction to do what's going on around me...but this thing just sucked me in.  This thought that my kids need to do everything, and that what they're going to get apart from home is somehow better than what they're going to get at home.  Thank you, God, for prodding me out to this pond today, to be part of what they enjoy that I've had no part in pushing them to do.

At the point where I started to listen again,  Cole had me climbing through barbed wire and directed my steps for the rest of our time at the pond.  I followed and watched every 10 year old grown up right before my eyes as he led with 6 year old following intently and learning from his best friend.  
What a priceless piece of timeJust to be there at that moment, knowing
This is what they love. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sweet Traditions

Late Wednesday night I quietly came into our house, backpack on my shoulder and typical giant Brook-size suitcase in tow. There, straight ahead of me, was a "Welcome Home" sign.  Like countless similar signs, the boys made it while I was out of town; they do it every time I'm away.  It began in 2009, and I'll always remember coming home from that trip to my first sign.  These days, that tradition is definitely a highlight of my return.

I'm not the best person at keeping tradition.  Okay, maybe I'm one of the worst.  In the nearly 13 years that I've been a parent, our household has missed things like pumpkin carving and Easter egg coloring more than once.  I like to blame it on being too busy, but probably more realistically, it's me forgetting or just plain not taking the time (eek...I admitted it).  I know I have tradition-loving friends who are mortified to be reading this.  Sorry, guys...

It gets better (and maybe more shocking) though.  One year, when Clay was 2 and Cole was just a baby, I asked my mother in law to watch the boys so I could decorate the house for Christmas.  Yup...even the tree.  I figured it would be too much work with them there, and that, heaven forbid, the ornaments might not go on the tree in just the right places.  I'm so thankful for the objectivity that comes with time, because it wasn't many years later that I actually realized how crazy I was for doing that.  A year of Christmas decorating memories with my sweet young boys was missed because I wanted everything to be perfect.

 Maybe this is a more accurate statement: I skip over traditions when they aren't convenient for me.

I could go on with similar stories, but you get the point.

The strange thing is, I come from a family who is all about keeping tradition.  We consistently have some of the same old family recipes on holidays, my mom still buys all her kids (and now grandkids), new pajamas to be opened each Christmas Eve, and on and on.  I love the traditions; I've just totally slacked at keeping them. 

Anyhow, my point is kiddos began a tradition 4 years ago that they continue to do.  I look forward to it, and I just plain love it.   

As we head into the holiday season this year, I'm more thankful than usual for the sign that hung in front of me as I came home this week.  Not only did it bless me to know my boys were excited to have their mama was a perfect reminder of the importance of keeping old traditions alive.  One thing is for sure...this year all 5 Hickles will be trimming the tree together, no matter where the ornaments end up. :)