Sunday, February 26, 2006

To harness or not to harness? Not really a question.

My wife and I have now had a shared experience--traveling with kks alone in an airport. This is only a small portion of the trips that we each took to the Northwest with her--but certainly the most stressful. The little girl has a propensity to bolt as it is. Throw in security areas, shops, and people scurrying in all different directions to achieve their global destinations; the parent of a young child will sever their nerves. I'm not sure this activity parallels a soldier on patrol--but the hightened sense of awareness and visualization of something awful happening challenged my stamina and sanity.

The prime tool in this survival game--a harness wrapped around kks' upper torso. This is a kind term for a leash. Questioning looks always come from onlookers as we travel together. Parents of young children who don't use a harness always comment as we walk by in an exasperated tone, chasing down a toddler (especially in the airport): "I need one of those." The harness keeps kks safe, allows her to burn off some energy through running, and lowers my stress level. I can actally get a few things done.

Emotions ran the gamut on this trip--I can't really say it was a vacation--I took family leave time. It has been a long time since I have connected with family to this degree. Some family I had not seen in nearly 30 years. Many people I know in South Dakota that are tight with their families both in relationship and proximity cannot fathom how I live my family life. I will not reflect upon the value of either situation--it is the only situation I know right now. I do know that kks should know who she is and from what stock she came--and we do the best we can considering our callings. The calling is always to be stewards of the gifts we have been given. Family is one of those gifts.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Agenda theory applications in the Seattle metro

After over a year of working in Sioux Falls, I realized how much more kks and I have become acquainted. Three hours a day once eaten up by commuting makes a huge difference. Part of that commute, kks is in the car. By no means are we having deep conversations--but we learn each other's rhythms and tendencies in ways once lost into the vortex of time from commuting. I am blessed to be able to take kks to child care--see what she does, with whom she relates.

This week in the Seattle metro differs from many visits. The agenda is not packed. Kks and I just hang out, with no particular place to be or go. At least there is no rush. We appreciate each other's presence that way, at least the depth of that appreciation is expanded. We enjoy simple things like eating together or chatting with the family.

My family is beginning to believe in agenda theory. Agenda theory and kks means that her enjoyment in the presence of a person relates to the detail of the agenda attached with that relationship. I have an agenda. Eat, clean up, bathe, get dressed, read a book, fix the hair. Agenda. Mom has an agenda. Preschool teachers have an agenda. Grandma has an agenda. Grandpa doesn't have an agenda. An uncle of kks doesn't have an agenda. Kks adores those without an agenda. Those who have an agenda are not completely written off--but the level of adoration is significant. I think we all carry an agenda detector--but the conditions under which we use it evolves and becomes more complex. Who likes to be around someone who has an agenda for how we're going to live our lives? I have learned agenda theory from kks in its purest form.

Kks has shared love with everyone this week, and that has been endearing to watch. Sometimes I envy those who live close to their families--the image of a strong, healthy root system of an old tree comes to mind. However, I also know that close proximity does not guarantee healthy intimacy. I hope that kks learns the value of her roots while learning relationships that thrive.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Evolution of Sunday mornings

Kks and her parents move through various stages in getting to church on Sunday mornings--the tortures of being a double PK.

1. The Early Months--Get kid out of crib. Stock at least 20 diapers and 30 outfits. Feed. Place in baby car bucket. Get to church. No problem. Biggest obstacle? Poop.

2. Early Toddler Stage--What the hell are you getting me up at 6 am for? Kks screams her lungs out and fights getting ready every step of the way. Go to church flustered where the caregiver meets us.

3. Late Toddler Stage--We get smart and have the sitter come to our house at 7 while kks still sleeps. Brilliant. Why didn't we think of that sooner?

4. Beginning of Little Girl/Big Girl Stage--Sunday School Preview! The congregation I serve offers child care for 4 and below and has Sunday School for ages 2 and up. I did not think I would be able to stir that stew in the morning. The joyful part is watching kks participate in Sunday School and take to the many people who keep watch. She seems to genuinely enjoy it. One of the fun parts is watching kks lug her backpack into the church. We feed the fish, head to the potty, have a snack and say hi to some of the staff. If I wasn't such a freak show over the details I could make this a regular arrangement. Fifty dollars in the therapy jar for depriving kks of a routine...but considering the circumstances, we have a good set up.

We have a care giver coming tomorrow morning. I will miss kks, but I need the space to work tomorrow morning. Just as I get used to this pattern, change will come again. Such is the Circle Game, sang Joni Mitchell.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Attempting more proactive parenting

Yesterday I picked up kks early from the child care facility and took her on a date to the local cinema. We viewed "Hoodwinked," a doctored-up Red Riding Hood story. The first 15 minutes were painful--then the film improved immensely. The script was properly targeted with obscure pop culture references to Gen X parents, mostly linked to the character of the Wolf--who spoke and dressed like Fletch. Not bad. There was also a hilarious scene where the lumberjack supplemented his acting income by selling Schnitzel on a Stick. I guess you had to be there.

Kks was equipped for the film with fruit punch, popcorn, fruit snacks and m&m. She likes to hold items as much as she likes to eat them. We made it through over an hour of an 80 minute movie, and kks decides she wants to run laps around the movie theater. I let her do it twice before I told her to sit down or we were leaving. Moving out to toward the entrance she said, "I want to watch the movie!" So we sat down. Repeat this scenario twice, and we were on our way home with about 2-3 minutes to go, kks screaming at the top of her lungs, "I want to watch the movie! I want to watch the movie!"

She has not had a tantrum like that in a few months. U-G-L-Y.

Things were a bit better when we returned home. No television--we played with puzzles and play-doh. Good times. Even thought the little girl was not the most cooperative, I felt we interacted better without the television. We even listened to some Great Big Sea--she's learning some of the songs. I'm limiting myself to a few television shows--ER, Boston Legal and Grey's Anatomy. These are also shows that come on after kks goes to bed.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

analytical mind developing, or just likes tv too much?

Recently I was commiserating with other parents about how we once said in more idealistic times that we would not park our children in front of the television as a way to get a break. It didn't take long for that ideal to slip. I can't say that I am proud that kks is media savvy at the age of 3. I love reading reports about how damaging television is to children. At this point I can only hope that together we can teach her to be a good media steward.

Media stewardship these days involves The Incredibles. We took this movie away for awhile because we thought it was too violent. In a weak moment, the movie made its way back into the rotation. Theories abound regarding why kks likes The Incredibles so much. She loves this film. This is a long film--1 hour 51 minutes. There is NOTHING that even comes close to holding her attention that long. Her mother says she has a crush on the boy character known as Dash. I think because she chooses this film over others is that Incredibles involves most complex plotline out of anything she watches. Is this an analytical mind at work? Maybe. Kks may not be able to articulate her cognition of complexity--but she seems to embrace complexity in certain forms.

One of kks favorite lines from the film? Elastigirl says: "You think we want to leave saving the world to the men? I don't think so...I don't think so."

I revealed this favorite to her mother. She responded: "That's my girl."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The reason I am awake a 1:30 a.m.

Kks refuses to take a nap these days. She is reminding me of me in my youth. I didn't want to miss anything. I found sleep (still do) overrated. After being a total spaz for 7-9 hours in child care, she falls asleep in the car on the way home about 80 percent of the time. About half of those times I can't get her to wake up. Because I was tired as well today and wanted kks to not worry about Mommy's absence, I put her in my bed. This kid is a thrasher. For someone less than four feet tall, she has the ability to take up the entire queen size bed. I don't know how she does it--but here I am writing, while the little girl is in blissful slumber.

I must go back to sleep. I'm exhausted--and gaining much more sympathy for my beloved and what she deals with when I am out of town. I know the work of single parenthood is not easy--it is important that I do not forget how difficult it is.

Nighty night...