Tag Archives: Parenting

Help Is Not a Four-Letter Word

Do you like to ask for help? Me, neither.

Even then, I thought I knew it all.

Even as a toddler, I yanked my hand from my mother’s and ran into a street in downtown Indianapolis. Terrified by screeches and honks, though, I clung to her at the next crossing.

Maybe I learned I wasn’t ready to take charge of my life? Nope. Instead, I believed Mommy needed help with hers. She needed me to iron while she was busy with my baby sister. That I ironed my left hand (I still bear the scar) should have made me question my choices.

It did. I still avoid ironing whenever possible.

But cautions about so-called independence learned during childhood vanished during my teens. My friends and I knew everything. Parents resembled forerunners of ATMs, except they gave advice along with money.

I should have wondered why The Beatles, the 1960s epitome of youth and success, sang lines about needing help and growing older. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were only 25 and 23 when they penned “Help” and McCartney wrote “Yesterday.”

But I didn’t until I married and had our first baby. Where was the faucet to shut off drool, puke and pee? I finally admitted that perhaps … I needed guidance.

Image by Natalia Lavrinenko from Pixabay.

Did I ask my parents or in-laws? No. Instead, I consulted books.

Though I did learn from several good ones, none provided critical answers I needed.

Most of the books then and today tell us to look within. That we know all the answers.

Instead, shouldn’t we open the Book that tells us to look up? To realize Someone much bigger and smarter stands waiting to help us?

We Americans pretend every day is Independence Day — even in January. However, 2024 stretches before us, its kamikaze traffic already whizzing by. Can we really navigate it alone?

Or, when we cross unknown streets, should we reach for the Helping Hand always ready to guide us?

Image by reenablack from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Where does your help come from?

Classic Post: Booting Up

This post first appeared on January 3, 2018.

“Don’t go outdoors without your boots!”

These winter words echo across decades.

Actually, this child liked clumping boots. Despite Mom’s belief I would catch 19 diseases, their podiatric force field protected me when stomping ice-covered gutters.

Unfortunately for my parents, their children’s feet grew hourly. While my sister acceded to wearing my hand-me-downs, I drew the line at my brother’s galoshes. However, recycled boots weren’t always an option because we had honed losing winter wear to a fine art.

The positive side: Lack of sufficient winter garb kept us inside warm classrooms at recess. While friends shivered outdoors, I read favorite books.

Some stories featured boots. In Little Women, Jo March’s boots helped her play swashbuckling heroes and villains in homegrown dramas. In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, a traveling cobbler designed Almanzo Wilder’s first manly pair. Puss in Boots never would have brought his master fame, fortune and a princess if he hadn’t strutted about in that all-powerful footwear.

Still, most boots seemed mundane until go-go boots invaded the fifth grade fashion scene. My ignorant mother refused to buy me white boots amid the muddy slop season.

I whined. I pined. I promised I wouldn’t lose them, not even one.

She wouldn’t budge. So, I languished without the go-go boots every girl owned except me — and Becky Andrews, who wore thigh-high black boots like Nancy Sinatra’s when she sang “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.”

Ten years later, I wore a similar pair that stretched my height well past six feet.

But snow time with my toddlers required mommy boots. My little ones readily wore garage sale Strawberry Shortcake and Ninja Turtles boots, even with PJs. They, too, waded in yucky gutters, despite my warnings.

Years later, they cornered me in a boot discourse similar to my go-go debate with Mom decades before. My children wanted me to spend a gazillion dollars on short-topped “boots” designed to frostbite toes.

When I refused, they left a row of sensible boots to an undisturbed existence in the closet — until I discovered my son’s worked well when I shoveled sidewalks.

I couldn’t wear the tall, black leather boots (my size!) I’d found on sale for five bucks.

I still wear them. I just leave them home when it rains. Or sleets. Or snows. Or. …

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Fess up. Do you wear your boots during yucky weather?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Wish I Hadn’t Quit!

O Lord, You recall how my mom begged me to practice piano, but finally gave up and allowed me to quit lessons. Thank You that my daughter didn’t cave — and, OMG, her boys make wonderful music!

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: After-Christmas Excitement

O Lord, thank You that after a wild, wonderful Christmas celebration, Hubby and I could sleep in. Two thousand years ago, Mary and Joseph probably wanted to sleep in, too, after all the brouhaha. But OMG, since You were a Baby, You probably had other plans for the day.

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Baseball DNA

O Lord, You know I spent many summer nights, sitting on hard bleachers, watching our baseball-crazy son and his team play T-ball. I slapped at mosquitoes and applauded every player (“Yay! You only missed that catch by 20 feet!”). OMG, You didn’t tell me that one day, I would watch my son coach his son too. 

Our son, circa 1990, taking a swing at his birthday T-ball while Great-Grandpa cheers him on.
Our son, who disliked his beauty parlor sponsor, nevertheless encourages his son to welcome his funeral parlor sponsor.

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Children + Computer = Unique Zoom Meetings.

O Lord, even in my empty nest, I find working at home a challenge. But, OMG, please give my daughter and other parents braving the joys of computer-savvy children the courage to carry on. Help the kids survive, too.

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: My Opinion Not Needed

O Lord, You know that when Mommy and Daddy Robin built their stringy, precarious nest on our garage light, this grandma ached to give them advice. Daddy, find a better site. Find a new architect. Mommy, keep your feet up so they don’t swell. No heavy lifting!

OMG, maybe those young parents didn’t need my input?

Little League Love

Fierce soprano voices yell, “Batter! Batter!” Super-sized helmets top skinny little necks. Pint-sized players wield mitts big as sofa pillows (and about as effective).

A hometown crowd cheers and munches hot dogs and popcorn.

It’s the season for Little League Love.

Unlike most onlookers, my husband and I are comfortable spectators. Our children are too old for Little League, and our grandchildren have taken different directions.

During our son’s baseball career, I spent years at ball parks with my eyes tightly shut — often double-covered with hands — only venturing out of hiding to visit the concession stand.

Now, I actually watch. These players’ ages range from nine to 12. Some kids probably do Gillette shaving commercials to supplement their allowances. Others might be mistaken for bats — except for hats, mitts and spit. For not only do they imitate favorite major league players with elaborate windups and batting rituals, they have mastered expectoration at near professional levels.

Moms don’t applaud this aspect of their game. But they cheer every catch, throw and at bat. Family members try to behave so their kids will. But when offspring are involved, the gentlest mom — and grandma — grows fangs when the umpire dares call their boy out.

I never acted like that. Though … I do admit going a little overboard in motivating my child, egged on by another mom.

Still, we helped our sluggish team morph into a slugging team. My friend jumped up and informed her 12-year-old that if he fanned again, she would dance for the crowd’s entertainment. I informed my son that I would sing. Very loud.

Not only did our boys smack the ball, we inspired the entire team. Yet nobody put our names on their trophy. Where’s the Mom Love in that?

A roar from the present crowd brings me back to the end of a last-inning 0-0 tie. On a wild pitch, a youngster steals home! After the good-sport slapping of hands, they adjourn to the concession stand, where winners celebrate and losers drown their sorrows in sno-cones — and all look forward to the next game.

It’s easy for me to laud the joys of Little League from my maybe-I’ll-go-to-the-game-maybe-not stance. For parents who spend enough time watching, waiting and transporting to earn a degree, Little League Love wears a little thin.

But one dad near us sees his sons’ games as win-win situations. If their teams win, he’ll return for championship competition. If they lose, he’ll stay home and run a combine over his neglected lawn.

This dad cares about his kids, but not too much about their games’ outcome. That’s the very best kind of Little League Love.

In Grandma’s eyes, no professional MLB player can compare with this little batter!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary:  What do you like best/least about Little League?