I don't neglect my children's hearts. Can I just say that tonight?
Now the folding of laundry? Yes, neglected. The sweeping of the front porch? Neglected. Vacuuming the van? Neglected. Wiping of windows? Don't ask. It's been years for the outside windows, I'm ashamed to say.
Recently, I learned there's something else I've neglected.
My mother, visiting here for ten days but staying with her sister, said I have four spirited children. She thinks it will be difficult when they're all teens. (By the way, they've behaved well this week. Go figure.)
Then last Sunday my uncle referred to Beth and Paul as live wires. Paul, because he got exuberant while watching a football game at their house. And Beth because she likes to twirl around and jump like a ballerina, all for show. She's a ham that way.
Beth also likes to jump in your arms like a happy little frisky dog. She's very cuddly, just not subtle about getting the affection and attention.
I think I've told you I'm shy? That I don't like to make waves? That I'm so not outspoken? When someone says something about my children that I don't like, I seethe privately.
Spirited? Live wires?
I have one child officially diagnosed with ADHD, but most mothers with this disorder in the house will attest that all her children exhibit some of the same characteristics, but perhaps not to the same debilitating extent.
Yes, they're all live wires. We burn our calories here, thank you very much. If we owned a treadmill it would be used by someone all the live long day.
I was mad, you know. Neither my uncle nor my mother meant any offense, but I took it and hid it (offense, that is).
Here I spend oodles of time on these children's hearts, and all I get in return is people telling me they're hyperactive?
Aren't they sweet and nice too, people, and don't they have clean language habits? We don't allow darn, dang, crap, or any other fake cuss word.
Aren't they friendly and engaging, rather than having their noses in some electronic thing?
Where can a mother get a little credit for her standards and hard work? I don't look for credit unless I get too much of the opposite.
I lamented to my husband for an hour one night, nearly in tears about these live wire-type comments. He was hurt by it too, and even wondered why God would give us four hyperactive children? It's exhausting, especially when they're all talking out of turn at the dinner table.
After about 36 hours I got over my anger and then I asked God for help. At least I said 36 hours and not 48. That's progress folks.
What can I do to make the world focus on their hearts, rather than on their wiggly bodies?
If I want people to see Jesus in them, I need to make their hyperactivity less distracting. I need to get the focus off the external, somehow.
God did help me, with a crazy, maybe-even-fun idea.
Mommy's charm school.
I've instituted charm-school rules and now, starting today at Save A Lot, they walk in lines. No running, twirling, jumping, skipping, hopping. No ballet moves, no football moves. No touching and hands at your sides. No weaving in and out of poles or chains or railings. No bounding up the stairs. No bounding at all, in fact.
I don't have a whistle like the father in The Sound Of Music, but I do have a secret signal to let them know they're exhibiting live-wire bodily movements.
Are you ready for it? Mommy's charm school warning signal?
The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plains.
You go Eliza Dolittle.
Why is Ann Shirley such an endearing heroine (Ann of Green Gables)? Because she's a live-wire with a huge, compassionate heart. She's equal parts stubborn and loving. She's three parts dreamy and one part practical. I love Ann Shirley but the world rolls their eyes at her type.
I love my children's exuberance, even if it exhausts me. They make their own fun and enjoy life without a dime to their names. They talk and shout and laugh and jump and twirl. They're alive in every sense of the word. That's something in this day and age.
But when we go out into the world as Christians, we have to let our hearts shine. Not our bodies or our clothes or our loud voices. Not our fancy cars or nails. Just our hearts, center stage.
Here's hoping Mommy's Charm School works to get the focus where it belongs.