Raising Someone Else’s Kids

"Do you have kids?”
That is always a tough question for me. And I always find myself stumbling over my answer. Yes, technically. I mean, they aren’t necessarily mine as in the normal way one has kids, but, in all other ways, yes, I have kids.
To be more specific, I have a stepson and two nephews. In my mind, though, they are all my kids. I didn’t have them so-to-speak, but they are mine.
And, here’s why. This is what it is like raising someone else’s kids.
When someone plays too rough outside and falls off a skateboard, tumbles over a basketball, or skids off a bike, you make sure you are there to wipe the blood, clean the wound, and dry the tears.
When someone feels beat down after a rough day at school or gets frustrated with a homework assignment, you speak uplifting words and provide encouragement.
When someone has a favorite breakfast, you go out of your way to make sure it is available in the morning.
When someone has interests, goals, and the like, you do what you can to…

Be present for your kids.

“Be the parent today  that you want your kids  to remember tomorrow.”  ~Unknown

If I am learning anything it is that kids see - and remember - EVERYTHING. In fact, kids notice things even when you think they don't! And, boy do I have an example for ya. 

Every Saturday morning I take AJ to his bowling lessons. He loves it and they say he has some natural bowling skill. Who wouldn't love to hear that? He is on a league that has constant coaching instruction for the kids. So, since it is not a drop-off sort of activity, parents go and sit at the nearby tables while the coaches work with the kids. They bowl two games and it takes a total of about 2 hours. No biggie, right? 

Well over the last several weeks, here is what I have been noticing. 

The mom of a quiet girl who never smiles sits down at her table, pulling out a bunch of papers and thumbing through them. She sits with her back to the bowling lanes. 

The dad of an adorable little boy either hangs out in the arcade or sits in the ba…

R.I.P., Baby Groot

Many years ago, when I was a young kid, I remember begging my mom for a hamster. She was so afraid that I'd let it out to run wild throughout the house so the answer was always "no." But, because she is such an awesome mom, I got a hamster for Christmas that year. 
It came with a plastic ball and batteries. It ran around the house when I turned it on and would stop when I turned him off. That was as much of a hamster that I'd ever get. I will admit that I was always a bit childishly bitter about this. Well, until March 9, 2018. 
That was the day Damian wrote an essay about how much he wanted a hamster. He wanted to love on it and take care of it and learn responsibility. He said all the right things, wrote it in some great handwriting, and we were proud. 
The kid got a hamster. A tiny dwarf hamster that he decided to name Baby Groot. 
This hamster never really did much... slept, mostly. But he sure could dirty a cage. After seeing the process that takes place with t…

No work and all play

Do you remember this scene? "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." I've got two little boys here who feel the same way. And, to my knowledge, they have never seen The Shining.
So, then, what causes the love of playing to override the need for hard work? Is it just an innate feeling? Is it learned? Where does it come from? 
Let me be honest... they hate work. Anything that is remotely like work. In fact, it is more like a nails-on-the-chalkboard screeching kind of look we get sometimes when they find out they need to do something other than play. This includes school work, cleaning, grocery shopping (oh, how they hate this one), among a few others.
Now, before you jump down my throat -- yes, they are kids so they will LOVE to play. But, as much as they LOVE to play, they HATE to work. 
Damian - the little smarty - politely told his teacher "no thank you" to the worksheet she handed out to the class. He wanted to play, not work - so why on earth would he acce…

Buried tunnels

It is nearing the end of the school year. Perhaps that is why the kids are getting a little more rambunctious and the teachers look as though they are ready to take a long hike in the woods and never return. In fact, they look downright exhausted. 
So much so that apparently there was an incident in the classroom with a disruptive student (no -- not mine) and the room turned into a chaotic situation. While discussing this at the dinner table, we heard the story from the mouth of a 4th grader and felt that perhaps we should reach out to the teacher for some clarification. 
See, Tina and I really try to express the importance and power of words. We teach these boys -- all three of them -- just how powerful your words are. We tell them time and time again that you always want to make sure you are speaking the truth and keeping the exaggeration to a minimum. Because, let's face it, it today's world, people are very quick to act upon the things that they hear without doing much in…

Let it go...

Life can get frustrating. When you see someone struggling, you want to just snap your fingers and fix their situation -- or find an instant solution. You want to make everything good and happy and well because who likes things that aren't, right? 
You cannot just "fix" things because, quite often, they aren't your "things" to "fix." I am going to be honest, I struggle with this. Something inside me just wants everyone to be content and happy... 
So, being wired this way and being one of the caretakers to two young boys, small things can get the better of me sometimes. Last night and this morning just happen to be two of those times. See, I want these boys to be happy, healthy, and do well at anything and everything they want to pursue.
I want to see transformation before my eyes. I want to see that I am doing right by them and give them everything I have to offer to make their lives better. I want to make sure that I don't make a wrong turn …

Life happens

I am learning a lot this month that life just happens. It doesn't give me a call, a notification, or even a calendar edit to make sure that my plans coincide with it. No. Instead, it just happens and whatever the plans are that I had -- well, I have to hope they weren't important. 
This makes me think of that cartoon character holding too many items, stacked three feet in the air, swaying to the right ... so as the character runs right, the items sway left... so the character runs to the left to catch them.. then they sway right and, well, you get the idea. Eventually the items win as they crash the floor. 
Yep. That is me with my plans. 
Here is how Valentine's week went in my house. Mondays are my busiest days by far. I have a ton of deadlines for a particular client on Mondays and my time is scarce. So, I decided that I was going knock out that work early since I had a meeting at the school. Then, on Tuesday, I would do my Valentine's Day shopping. I had the perfect…