With the expansion of our world via Samantha, we are learning the art of parenting. We have encountered some of the expected challenges and are hoping we are somehow being subconsciously prepared for others that we haven’t yet encountered. The biggies we are working on with her right now are manners and chronic arguing.
What’s impressive, though, is that Samantha is fairly quick to correct herself once we point out why the behavior is not acceptable. For example, we noticed that she would say, “This is too hard” when something was a challenge to her and she would expect us to tell her not to worry about it. She kept this up for a few days, obviously noticing we didn’t give her the response she was after. Alan explained to her that she was limiting herself with those words and I told her to replace the words “too hard” with “tricky”. The next time she came upon the habit, she caught herself before I could and then hasn’t said something is “too hard” since. I have so enjoyed watching this process repeated by her on several occasions.
There are some things that have been harder than others for Samantha, like the arguing and being sassy. My mom has bared a lot of the brunt of this in the role of Grandma. For those of you that don’t know, my mom willingly (as always) stepped in to be the nanny while Alan and I are still in school. Yeah, she’s that awesome. We originally planned to bring Samantha out here after we graduated, but Alan’s parents’ health became such that they needed us to take her earlier. The arguing and sassy or rude talk has been a habit for so long with the grandma that she’s lived with, we think that’s why she does it more with my mom. She doesn’t know why she does it, and in her own words, that’s just how she is. Uh-huh. That might fly if pigs did. (Whoa! How’s that for a parental comeback?!) But really, she is working hard and I feel proud of her for that.
Some of the things I love most about Samantha are my real reasons for writing today. We have no problem feeling like she is ours and are grateful for her.
1. Despite her claim about being naturally sassy and argumentative, she’s purely and naturally very happy– You can see it in her skipping from the car to the store and then back again. Or in her smiles as she sidles right up to us, shoulder to shoulder and gives us that sweet smile. Or in her “Hi” every time she comes into the same room as we are.
2. Her pure honesty just gets me– There are the insecure fibs she tells that we’re going to have to address, but the innocent childlike honesty is potent. The other day the three of us were in the car headed somewhere. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but when neither Alan nor Samantha laughed or responded to something I intended to be humorous, I pointed out, “That was my attempt to be funny. I guess it didn’t work.” Samantha’s reply: “No, it didn’t.” The fact that it was something I was pretty sure she wouldn’t get anyway made me crack up double.
3. She loves spending time with me– One day when we were out shopping, I told her, “I hope when you are a teenager you will still like doing things with me.” She said, “Of course I will! Because I love you.” She called me Mom (indirectly) the other day and it made my day. I was plugging my radio into an outlet behind our bed so my head was behind a pillow and when Alan walked in she said, “Look. You can’t see Mom’s head.” She indirectly referred to Alan as Dad first and we weren’t sure if we heard her correctly. I think Al liked it just as much as I did.
4. She brings out the 9 year old in me– I enjoy our silly, girly moments; it is treasured time. She was helping me fill out a bunch of those dumb quizzes on Facebook the other night. One of them asked me to select one of 5 or 6 options to the question “Do you wish you were smarter, prettier, funnier…?” I don’t recall what the other options were, but she told me to select “funnier”. When I asked her why she thought I should pick that one, she said it was because I tried to be funny a few days earlier and it didn’t work.
5. It’s a fun challenge to broaden her horizons– She loves to sing. We gave her an iPod Shuffle as a reward a few weeks ago (hand-me-down from my niece, Syd). She’s been thrilled with it and walks around the house with the ear buds in, singing the chorus two volume digits higher and more audibly than the rest of the song while bobbing her hands and head to the beat. She has been surprisingly very responsible with the iPod thus far. She was singing church hymns with us from the first day we took her to church, though she had never heard them before. It’s pretty stinkin’ cute. So when she brought home a flier that invited students to be members of the school choir, I wasn’t surprised that she wanted to join. She went a few times, until the boy that she liked became her enemy. She didn’t want to go anywhere Wyatt was–or anywhere there was a boy with the first name that started with a “W”. When she decided to be his friend again, I asked her about going back to choir and she said, “I don’t really like singing opera. All they sign is opera.” They are singing songs from The Sound of Music and others like it. A little education on opera vs. choral music is in the wind.
Kids. Aren’t they great?