After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Against the world at ten-years-old

Last week this girl turned ten.

 TEN.  That is double digits.  She is actually growing up and starting to *get* things.  Things about life that make her dad's head spin.  She is smart, beautiful, gracious, and kind.  

And she is absolutely confident when she is on a 1,300 pound animal with a mind of his own.  There is something about a girl and a horse.  This mama totally gets it and it does my soul good to watch my baby out doing what she does with that animal.  My mom says that the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a girl.  Yes, it is.  And having watched her go from being in tears of frustration last year to charging forward and challenging this new beast of hers (yes, her own horse), I can't help but swell with pride.  She is getting a lot of things.

Now, one thing about growing up that sucks is the whole losing of the innocence thing.  It happens when we start to *get* things I think.  We start to understand that people just suck sometimes and even when we do nothing to provoke it, sometimes we are hurt by the world.

I confess that I listen to country music.  And I listen to it a lot more than I probably should.  What does this have to do with anything?  Well, country music is maddening I think.  One song I'm laughing, the next I'm nearly in tears, and then the next one has me seething because if anyone ever did that to my kid I would be furious.

One particular song caught my ear recently.  The song itself is actually quite pretty.  Until you listen to the words.  Tyler Farr's Redneck Crazy.

Gonna drive like hell through your neighbourhood
Park this Silverado on your front lawn
Crank up a little Hank, sit on the hood and drink
I'm about to get my pissed off on

I'm gonna aim my headlights into your bedroom windows
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows
I didn't come here to start a fight, but I'm up for anything tonight
You know you broke the wrong heart baby, and drove me redneck crazy

Wish I knew how long it's been going on
How long you've been getting some on the side
Nah, he can't amount to much by the look of that little truck
Well he wont be getting any sleep tonight

I'm gonna aim my headlights into your bedroom windows
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows
I didn't come here to start a fight, but I'm up for anything tonight
You know you broke the wrong heart baby, and drove me redneck crazy
Redneck crazy

Did you think I'd wish you both the best, endless love and happiness
You know that's just not the kind of man I am
I'm the kind that shows up at your house at 3am

I'm gonna aim my headlights into your bedroom windows
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows
I didn't come here to start a fight, but I'm up for anything tonight
You gone and broke the wrong heart baby, and drove me redneck crazy
You drove me redneck crazy, oh 

So basically, this guy rods through her neighborhood at 3am, parks on her lawn shining his headlights into her bedroom window, cranks his stereo and throws beer cans at her house. He also judges the other guy by the size of his truck, which I admit I kinda laughed at.

Now, the girl doesn't sound much better, stepping out on him and all.  She may be a piece of work all her own.  But I kind of wonder about his emotional health to begin with.  Maybe this girl was just scared to break up with him for fear that he would go crazy.

Without knowing the whole story I can't go defending her or her actions, but doesn't his response sound illegal?

Oh, and he's not looking for a fight, but, you know, if something happened, he'd be up for anything.

I pointed this whole situation out to my husband one day. He pointed out the whole stepping out thing. Yes, she was not all innocent and this guy is responding to an injustice.  I get that.  And who doesn't want to defend themselves to a certain extent?  But I think this guy goes WAY too far. 

So after this discussion with my husband I went about my business and suddenly realized that I was at one point in my life a little redneck crazy.  When I was in high school I broke up with a guy and then found out that he had been participating in activities that would have most definitely resulted in the end of the relationship much sooner.  Then one day not too much after the break up I was  reading the local newspaper and found a little blurb stating that he had been arrested and put in jail for driving under the influence and writing a bad check.  I found this very interesting and cut it out.  Then I found the nearest copy machine and enlarged it so it fit perfectly on an 8.5"x11" piece of paper.  Then I wrote a smart-ass comment on it, put it in an envelope and mailed it to him.

My husband thought I was horrible.  But, that is NOT illegal.  And I pointed out that I hope if our kids find themselves in situations like that, they have the guts to stick up for themselves, even if it is after the fact.  And in a way that is NOT illegal or dangerous.  Nobody needs to put up with being treated like crap.

Now, with my girl turning ten I have been thinking a lot about how we are going about teaching her and the rest of the kids this.  I have concluded that the best way to do that is by example.  And apparently, I am kind of ashamed to admit, we have been doing a fine job of it. 

I love my husband.  I do not doubt my husband loves me.  And we have a great marriage.  We have a solid marriage that I feel good raising our kids in.  But we live in a fallen world and neither one of us is perfect.  And sometimes we find ourselves in a bit of a tiff.  Sometimes I find myself so angry at him that I can barely see straight. I am certain that he feels the same way at times.  I am not proud of that.  And I am also not proud of the fact that the kids see it.

But, on the other end, they also get to see the resolution.  They see the apology, the reconciliation and the moving forward in forgiveness and love. 

I am now old enough to have friends that have lived through divorce.  One day I was visiting with the mother of one of my divorced friends about another friend who was going through a divorce.  This mother commented that my divorcing friend called her divorced daughter for advice. (Still with me?)  I was actually kind of angry at that because it seemed like maybe she should have been calling someone who was MAKING a marriage work.  And I told her as much. Later I realized that both these friends experienced divorce and abandonment early on.  I can't fault them for that, but I was talking to yet another friend of mine about it later and she told me that one thing her father always said was children growing up in broken homes don't see the reconciliation.  They just see the end of the fight.  That really hit home for me and I will never forget it.

With that in mind, this summer we were all out in the yard as a family working to clean up a tree we had someone cut down.  It was a huge mess and a lot of work.  In the mean time the kids found a headless baby bird under the deck.  In an effort to find resolution I told them to go out back and bury it.  So the three youngest and the neighbor kid got the bird (that I wrapped in a paper towel) and a shovel and started back.

Before they even made it through the back gate, they were fighting.  Why?  Because Carsten wanted to carry the shovel, carry the bird, AND dig the hole.  None of the other kids were taking that news very well.  And there was yelling.  I commented to Brent, who was across the yard working with Grace, that I didn't know if this was normal, kids fighting over who gets to bury the dead baby bird.

Something was said as to why they were always fighting.  I told him quite frankly that Carsten, who was nearly three at the time, can be "a little shit."

Brent looked up and said, "I'll bet you say the same thing about me."

"No," I said.  "You are the big shit."

But then Grace piped up from where she was listening and said, "Mom, I thought he was an ass?"

We laughed.  And we laughed.  And we are still laughing.

Now, I am not proud of the fact that my kid has heard me call her dad an ass.  But she also sees me kiss him in the kitchen a whole lot more.  She sees him kiss me back.  She sees him go to work every day and work hard so we can have what we have.  She sees us laughing at the dinner table.  She sees us working out the weekly schedule with everyone in mind.  She sees him take days off so he can spend them with all of us.  She sees him take time out of what he is doing to teach her how to use the tools he is using and patiently explain why and how he is doing it.  She sees him out watching her with her horse with so much pride that he is beaming at her.  And yes, he treats all the kids with the same fatherly concern and admiration that so many kids in this world are missing.

I want my kids to grow up well rounded.  I want them to have a good education and feel like if they want to do something, it certainly isn't going to hurt to give it a shot. And if it doesn't hurt, they aren't any less of a person. But I have concluded that if my kids marry spouses that are the same caliber as their dad, I will be eternally thanking the Lord.  I pray for the kids God has picked for my kids.  I pray that they are gracious and kind and considerate and godly.  That they are good spouse material and good parent material.  I pray that they seek reconciliation and resolution and aren't afraid to admit when they are wrong and stick up for themselves and anyone else when they aren't.

Life is tough.  Like I said, sometimes people suck.  Sometimes we have to look sucky people in the eye and tell them the truth.  And if the truth is that they are being an ass, I hope that my kids can all stick up for themselves and say it like it is.  But I also hope that I can teach them that sometimes it's them being the ass.  And like their mom, they will have to look someone in the eye so they can admit it and apologize.  And then life goes on and we try to do better because hopefully we can learn from our mistakes.

Yes, all of this because my big girl turned ten.  Can you tell I'm feeling a little pressure to get this right?  I've been thinking a lot about what I want my kids to be.  Sometimes I wonder if it's something like a midlife crisis--except I just realized my kid is half-way out of my house.

Probably.  But then again, the little one is only three.  I hope and pray that I am up for this.