Kids

When a baby starts crying…everybody reacts. Sometimes it’s a relaxed, normal reaction, such as the baby’s mom or dad…who are used to the crying. Even the grandparents can be pretty relaxed with it, because they know the baby and what this type of crying means.

The reactions of a friend who is holding the baby are a little more nervous. They often range from “What did I do?” to “I don’t think your baby likes me!” looks. Everyone wants to be the one who picks up a baby and the baby just snuggles up and smiles, or the one who picks up a crying baby, and the baby miraculously quits crying…just because they saw your face. Of course, the reality is that unless you are the baby’s mommy or daddy, or maybe grandma or grandpa, you probably aren’t going to get the reaction you hoped for from a crying baby. They want their mommy or daddy, especially at bedtime or mealtime.

Some of the funniest reactions to a crying baby, in my opinion, come from other children. They often think they are going to be in trouble for somehow hurting the baby, because after all “Why in the world would this baby cry unless it was hurt”, right? Claims of “I didn’t do anything!” or “What did I do?” are fairly immediate when they are handed a baby and the baby simply turnes into a screaming bundle of noise in their arms. They just don’t understand that the baby is feeling very unsafe right now, because this person who is holding them isn’t much bigger that they are…and “Where is my mommy!!”

And for the child sitting next to the poor little one who is holding the screaming baby, the looks are a mixture of “Whew, I’m glad that isn’t me!” and “Will somebody do something about this kid!” They are really just glad the baby didn’t cry while they were holding it, and…”Maybe I’ll wait for a better time for my turn…thanks!” Kids just don’t want to be singled out as the one that made the baby cry!

Now a sister or brother who is used to this “screaming kid who has joined our family” has an even different reaction. Day after day, they hear the baby crying, and they often can’t figure out what this kid’s problem is, and why they can’t “be more like me”…because “I never cry for no reason!” and “Why did we get this kid anyway!” When they found out they were getting a little brother or sister, they were so excited, and when the baby arrived, then confusion set in. “Ok people, this crying is just not what I signed on for when you told me I was getting a brother or sister!” “I kinda wanted a bigger kid…you know, like a new best friend…soooooo, could we just trade this one in one a better model…I think this one is just a bit defective!!” “Hey Mommy, can you please turn the volume down on this kid…or better yet, maybe we should put him in his crib…and shut the door please!!”

Kids are so full of life. They haven’t lived long enough to become jaded or weary, so they still feel excitement over the simple things, like a camping or fishing trip. Josh and his whole family love to go camping in the mountains, and fishing at the lake. The boys get really excited about fishing. They compete for the most catches…and just about everything else. The funny thing is that their competitions are usually friendly, not angry…thankfully.

But competition aside, what impresses me the most with kids is that they don’t look at life the way we do. They have so many hopes and dreams for the future. Nothing seems impossible to them. Optimism…that is what it is…that and wonder. They are still in wonder of what the world is all about, and most of it is exciting to them. Especially the littlest ones. It is all so new.

Even the teenagers though, feel excitement about what life is about to show them around the very next corner. And when they are doing their favorite things, all kids have a tendency to just simply get high on life. So when it comes to camping or fishing, swimming or sports, they have a way of getting so excited that they jump for joy.

Why can’t we adults keep that childlike wonder? As adults, we seem to allow ourselves to get…tired maybe, but mostly we just lose that sense of wonder…that wide eyed wonder that looks at the world and says…”Wow, look at that.” It’s that feeling that there is something new and exciting left in the world.

Josh is one of those kids who still has that sense of wonder. He still sees things as exciting and fun. Like leaping off of a rock into the air…just because it looked like it might be fun. When was the last time any of us took a moment to look around us to see if their might be something that would fill us with wonder, and get us high on life?

When kids are little, the things they see as important are the things the adults around them are doing. It may be something that we don’t even realize would stand out to them, but if it is something they don’t have or get to do, them it feels to them like it must be a grown up thing, and therefore important. In fact, some of the things we adults dislike the most, seem the most important to the kids, like glasses.

I remember when I was a kid, glasses seemed like the coolest thing out there, but once I had to wear them, I sure felt differently. They weren’t nearly as much fun as it seemed to me that other people had wearing them. I suppose it must have been that I would see people laughing and notice the glasses, and so it just seemed to go hand in hand.

Of course, sometimes, as I believe was the case in this picture of my brother-in-law, Ron, someone puts the glasses on just to see how funny it looks. I don’t know whose glasses these were, but I’m pretty sure they belonged to a woman. Not that it really matters, because even if they had been men’s glasses, they still would have been huge on Ron’s little 2 or 3 year old face. No, it is my guess that the adults around Ron decided to see how funny he would look in the big glasses, and once they saw it, they took a picture so they could re-live that funny moment.

Yes, kids might think that certain things are very cool because they are an adult thing, but quite often it is the adults who get the biggest kick out of the outlandish results. And, as long as their are kids, there will be outlandish antics and looks as they strive to mimic the adults in their world, because kids are very interested in being all grown up…after all, to them, it is a grown up thing.

Grandma's gardenDuring the years of the Great Depression, people had to do whatever was necessary to make ends meet. The backyard garden became a necessity, not a hobby. Hunting and fishing really became a vital part of life, not just a pastime. People had to make their own repairs around the house, rather than hiring it done. People put blankets up for curtains, and made their own clothes. I suppose it was like a move back in time…to the time when their ancestors didn’t have a store to go to, or a repairman to call, so they did what they had to do, on their own. I would imagine that there were a lot of repairs that the repairman would have scratched his head at…just trying to figure out how it ran at all.

While the things the people of the Great Depression era did were a bit unusual, and were an essential part of making ends meet, they were also a part of their independence. They didn’t want a government handout…even when they had to take it, they didn’t want it. They were used to taking care of themselves. Nevertheless, jobs were scarce, and often required the men to travel for work, leaving their wives and young children to run the farm. School became a luxury, because the kids were needed at home to plow, weed, and harvest the crops to put food on the table. Nothing was wasted either. They cooked the feet, tongue, and even brains of an animal for food. They didn’t necessarily kill an animal, if all they needed was the feathers for a mattress. Can you Grandpa by the Gardenimagine plucking the feathers from a goose while it is alive?? I would be afraid it would come after me, but it was well known then, that the feathers would grow back, just like our hair, of course, cutting our hair doesn’t hurt.

Tough times can make or break a nation and it’s people I guess, but if we are a people, determined to make it on our own, and help this nation be great at the same time, then we can be a nation who can handle difficult times with grace and dignity. If we become a nation of people who are willing to sit back and let the government take care of us, then we will be a truly poor nation indeed.

Little RonYears ago, when my husband, Bob had just started his first job, his family took a trip to California. It was to be the first time Bob didn’t go along on the family vacations, and I’m sure it felt odd to the whole family, but perhaps none so much as his little brother, Ron. As the only two boys in a family of six kids, Bob and his little brother had a bond…or maybe it was simply the need for an ally. Two boys against four girls doesn’t always bode well for the boys…especially when two or all of them are older than you. Bob has two older sisters, and two younger sisters, and finally 14 years after his own birth, Bob got his little brother, Ron. Needless to say, the girls dominated the household for the most part, and for most of Bob’s life at home.

The family set out for California, leaving Bob to work, and hopefully, stay out of trouble. The trip was fun filled, and as most vacations do, it went by far too fast. They were sightseeing and visiting family, and just having a great time. All this was so new to Ron, who was just a little guy, and so when the time came to start back home, he was clearly not the happiest person in the group. He wanted to stay longer. Home was boring. It meant going back to the same old everyday things…no more fun and exciting new things to see and do.

The family tried to explain to him that they had to go home. His dad had to work, and the Bob at about 16girls had to go back to school in the fall. Their had a house and all his toys back in Casper. Nothing seemed to work. Finally in a last ditch effort to convince Ron that they simply could not stay on vacation forever, the said that Bob would be lonely if they never came back home. Ron had seemed to have an answer for every other argument, but they thought they had him on this one…not so!! Ron was quick to solve that problem as well. He quickly explained, “Just send for him in the mail!” I’m quite sure that took them all by surprise, and while he didn’t win the war to stay on vacation, I think he might just have won that battle, I mean…how can you argue with logic like that.

Dad and MomAs a caregiver, I can understand fully just how easy it can be to hit the breaking point. Sometimes it comes with irritation, or worse, screaming at the person you are trying to help, but just as often, it comes in the form of an argument with someone else…one that has nothing to do with the things that are bothering the caregiver at all. Usually the breaking point happens over something that is so trivial that you wonder what your problem is. And sadly, so does everyone else. Basically it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s just that last thing to happen in a series of events that have been adding stress upon stress, to the point that you just have no more patience.

Caregivers tend to hold it all in for as long as they can in an effort to keep on keeping on. There is no way out of the situation…you are needed, and you would not leave your loved one without the help they need. You love them. So you simply pull yourself up by the bootstraps, take a deep breath, muster up every bit of adrenalin that you can, and you go on. It’s all you can do. Then, without warning, something hits that last straw point…that breaking point…and you find yourself losing that control you have worked so hard to maintain. It’s like watching yourself explode. You would stop it if you could, but it is beyond that point now. Your mouth is engaged, and your mind has already quit thinking rationally. It is probably the darkest, most horrible, single act that a caregiver can perform, and one that none of us want to do. We already know that we will have to apologize for acting in such a way…after all, it wasn’t the fault of the patient or whomever it was that we have just unloaded all those pent up feelings on. They were simply the last straw.

Not only do they not know what they did wrong, but they find themselves wondering why they never knew that you were insane before. You aren’t, of course, but you are overworked, and you are tired, and you are emotionally drained. The person you have always known to be strong and capable, has suddenly changed into a weak and needy person, and that has turned your life upside down. It is enough to make anyone go seemingly insane. You had always thought that your parents would always be your parents, and they are of course, but they are also your patient, and your responsibility. The tables have turned, and in the process, your life has hit a turning point too, and you don’t know what to do to fix it.

There really is no way to fix it. You find yourself in a position of having to accept that your parents will never be Dad and Momthe strong people they were. That part of their life has passed, and the future…the winding down of their lives has been set in motion. Even if it was just a day ago that they felt fine, there is no going back that one day. Time marches on and we have to go with it. We have to learn to make the best of what we have now, and take care of ourselves well enough that perhaps we can avoid that next breaking point…because if we can’t, we will once again find ourselves looking at someone who has no idea what they have done to us. All they know is that the person they love is somehow furious at them, and it breaks their heart…at which point, we lose all that anger, wish we had not let things get out of control, and begin the process of repairing the relationship again with that all too familiar apology.