Posted in At Home, Blog

The Boy Next Door

Safari Boots is not used to sharing his big brother at all, much less with a boy who holds the glamour of nine whole years of life experience, and a remote control car.
But he has had to make the adjustment. There is a little boy next door, two years older than Encyclopedia Boots. And suddenly, everything is about Felix. Felix is my best friend after my brother. Felix says I am his best friend, too. I can see Felix out the window. Can Felix come over to play in the backyard? Felix has a remote control car. Felix, Felix, Felix.Cragg & Hudson, best buds

I had a talk with Encyclopedia about how his brother is the most important friend he has, since he will be in his life forever. If I find that he and Felix aren’t getting along nicely with Safari, Felix will have to go home, while Encyclopedia learns to appreciate his brother. And Encyclopedia seems to be doing a pretty good job of including Safari.

This is a whole new world for me. Encyclopedia has had friends before, but they were mostly playdates arranged because I was friends with the child’s mother. This is the first friend who hasn’t been handpicked, and although Felix seems like a nice boy, he represents something of a loss of control on my part — a letting go of sorts.

Today, I ushered the children outside. “I don’t want you playing in the basement until I’m unpacked,” I told them. “Everybody into the backyard.” I saw Encyclopedia looking from me to Felix to see how my stance was being interpreted by his friend. It was like he was seeing me through the eyes of his friend, looking at me for the first time with a certain impartiality of gaze.

What would Felix think of Mama? Would he be offended by being thus ushered out of the house? Encyclopedia felt the need to explain me  to his friend:  “It’s just because we’re not unpacked yet. Mama doesn’t want a big mess when she’s still unpacking boxes and doesn’t know where everything goes.” His friend shrugged agreeably, and they headed outside.Hudson is getting so tall, but he is still very much a little boy.

It was a nothing-moment, one I could have so easily missed, had I not seen that look in Encyclopedia’s face. And yet it was so significant. Up to now, Farmer Boots and I have had almost 100% control over his impressions of us and the world. Today marked a shift. We’re down to 90%. His peer relationships can have some impact on his impressions of the world — and on his impressions of me.

Somebody, I can’t remember who, said that parenting is about learning to let go. I guess my little boy is leaving the baby stage and entering into the next stage of childhood — one which I have reduced power to shape for him.

God grant me wisdom in learning how to let go, and how much, and when and how to hold on. God grant me wisdom and peace in guiding this precious little soul, and indeed, all of the precious little souls in my care.

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Posted in At Home, Blog

Bedtime Bonding

We are a moderately large-sized family in quite a small-sized house. A 1,000 square-foot semi-detached with a small fenced backyard. My husband works from home, and we homeschool in the basement. At work, at school and at play, we get a lot of use out of our tiny home.

So many people, upon looking at our four children and our tiny house, remark that we’ll probably be moving to upsize soon. While I would love to move, I am more interested in upsizing the backyard than upsizing the house.

Many people feel that it is imperative for each child to have their own room, signifying independence and privacy. But I love giving my children a built-in boost to their friendships with one another.

boys' room
boys before lights out

The boys used to have a bunk bed, but they always ended up asleep together in the bottom bunk! I love hearing their conversations (which aren’t as hushed as they imagine them to be) from my bedroom across the hall. Tonight, long after lights out, I heard Encyclopedia tell Safari Boots that he wants to be a missionary when he grows up.

Safari responded, “I like missionaries. But I want to be a knight.”

He is going to love studying Medieval History next year!

A little later, I overheard Safari say to Encyclopedia, “I have a secret. I’m not telling anyone.”

“What is it?”

“It’s a secret. I’m not telling you, either.”

“But Safari, you have to tell somebody. If you don’t tell anybody, it’s not a secret. It’s just a thought.”

I had to smile, wondering if Hudson really believed his argument, or if it was just his best attempt at persuasion.120509-1043b

The girls are still really babies, so I don’t hear nighttime whispers from them, but I often hear Shiny Boots singing her own lullabies to Baby Busy Boots. I don’t let them sleep together for safety reasons, since Busy is still an infant. But Shiny often asks to switch cribs for the night, sleeping in Busy’s crib, with Busy’s blanket and pillow, while Busy takes her crib. I think this is her way of wanting to feel close to her sister.

What a lovely thing, to hear one’s children telling each other secrets, dreams and aspirations in the darkness. This is something that will go on all throughout their childhoods, and it will cement their relationship with one another. They are so blessed to have each other, and I love this part of parenting them. God has truly blessed me, and I am so thankful.