Summer is crazy when it comes to getting your kids to sleep before 10 PM! We try our best but we are tricked by the forever long days with sunlight until 9:30 at night.
The other night the kids were ready for bed and it was 10 o'clock. The weather has been wonderfully odd for July with light rain showers off and on, clouded overcast, and temperatures at least 25 degrees cooler. I wanted to go for a walk after the kids were asleep. Well I wanted to go running with Chay but he kind of gave me the look that I was too slow. I knew the look so I clued in real fast. Kenzie overheard our conversation and she kindly asked me if she could come with me.
Everything inside of me was saying "NO." It was super late and it was dark outside and Kenzie is only 8 years old. But why not? Why not? She is growing up and understands a lot and she is suddenly craving alone time with me and Dad. I kind of felt the push to be with her alone that night without all the kids hanging around. She has been a lot more opinionated lately and has been having these crazy outburst of emotional surges where she feels life is so unfair. She will beg for something and if I say no she will sort of freak out and if I don't handle the situation well she will freak out even worse. It doesn't happen a lot but I sense that she is trying to feel validated. This is all new to me. I have never experienced a child growing up and who suddenly has a strong opinion about certain things. She is as sweet as ever but I can tell that little things are going on in that developing mind and that little body of hers. So I am glad the Holy Ghost told me to take Kenzie with me on that walk. I told her to go get her running shoes on.
We started to run a little but she just ate her third bowl of soup 30 minutes before (she is starving all the time lately) and so Kenzie got a terrible side ache. We ended up just walking around the neighborhood. It started to sprinkle and it felt so good. Off to the northwest was a distant lightening storm. It was pretty much perfect. We held hands and walked around the neighborhood together and talked.
I like to listen to the Mormon Channel on my phone in the morning sometimes when I am hurting and don't want to move yet and get out of bed. One day I listened to 1 part of a series on Communication With The Family. It suggested that when you have one-on-ones with a child that you make sure to just listen as long as you can and let the child just talk about everything and anything so the child feels safe with her feelings and don't pass any judgement on them. So I practiced not saying much and Kenzie just rambled off about stories from school, church, friends, cousins. She asked why a certain friend doesn't come to church very often. She also said that she is excited for school to start and can't wait to be with her friends again.
When she said she wanted to go back to school it kind of stung a little. She has never said that before. Summer and being home with family has always been her ideal choice. I know it is selfish of me but it is hard to see her change. I know outside friendships are crucial to growing up and developing problem solving skills- especially in the social realm but it is still hard for mommy. For some reason Kenzie doesn't want to play dolls as much with Julia and it makes Julia sad. I don't know why Kenzie is suddenly changing. I feel like just 2 months ago she was all about dolls and princesses and imagining. She does every now and then but it seems like she is looking for more.
I will take these new steps and changes with gratitude and I will try to be so excited for her as she slowly leaves little childhood. Wow the inspiration and revelation in the church to not baptize until a child is 8 years old is pretty much perfectly and heavenly designed. Something happens at 8. A child really knows between right and wrong at 8. It also proves that a child must have a testimony and strong faith by 8 because their brain and thought processing switches.
They go from obeying and soaking in all the truth as a little child leaning and trusting every word that comes out of their parent's mouth then switching to asking questions, doubting, figuring things out on their own, wondering why, having their own ideas, looking to influences outside the home, making their own choices- all this emerges when they are around 8 years old-
And as parents we should honor this new and exciting change and not take it as a threat to their role as parent. Let the person grow- Motto to myself "don't be defensive to growth" I have to tell myself this because I sort of get all crazy when Kenzie questions my authority. I am her Mom and there will always be rules but I feel that I and other parents get carried away with separating and placing the child below us as we stand 10 feet higher above them. (Like Mr. President Business, Ha Ha) Then as parents we easily fall into "unrighteous dominion" as we struggle to keep control and uphold this role that we have created in our heads as these "good" parents who feel they always have to be in charge, always have the last say, always be right. I think unrighteous dominion can hinder progression in a child and ultimately a person's skills to rely on the Holy Ghost and make choices for themselves. It is a fine line. A very fine line I am discovering to balance rules and expectations from parents versus allowing a child to think, feel, and decide for themselves especially when you know that child is making a poor decision. That is why parents need to pray every day. Ha. Because it is hard! So incredibly hard!
So um, I totally get off on tangents at times. So Back to my story about Kenzie and I walking in the rain..
Kenzie talked and I practiced listening. Listening allowed her to feel respected and so she wanted to learn from me. She then would ask questions that allowed me to say how I felt. It was so good. I thanked Heavenly Father over and over for that night together. I was also thankful that even though Kenzie is growing up and moving on to other things, she still highly preferred we hold hands the entire walk and then I knew she is still so so young and I loved it.
We loved getting wet together from the rain. She is such a sweet beautiful girl. It was like she could sense how I was feeling, or she just knows her mom really well but she said that night, "Mom, I am really excited to make new friends and go back to school but I will always treasure my family." It was so kind. She then asked me to teach her where north, east, west, and south were. :)
So we stopped in the middle of the street and I taught her. I told her that Utah is a perfect place to learn because we are blessed with these huge mountains off to the east and for the most part no matter where you are in the valley, the mountains will be to the east. We then thought of a million acronyms for the directions. Never Eat Soggy Waffles, Never Eat Soggy Watermelon, Never Eat Shredded Wheat- the usuals.
We got home from our walk around midnight. Chay was still out running. Crazy Clarks. The next morning Kenzie woke up and gave me the biggest hug and said, "Mom, last night was the best night ever."
I have been trying all summer to make their summer fun and memorable. We have been going places and doing a bunch of fun things and not once have I had a response like that from Kenzie.