“Yeah, yeah…I know…I’ve heard this speech before,” my daughter said to me in a tone dripping with teenager attitude. Frustrated I fired back at her, “And that’s exactly the kind of attitude that won’t help out your cause.” She pursed her lips and rolled her eyes. I left the room and headed toward the stairs.
Passing by the living room, I caught a glimpse of the 5-year-old standing erect with his arms at his side, hands clenched. His older brother was sitting nearby with a glimmer in his eye and a smirk on his face. A Zhu Zhu Babies commercial was playing on the television. This didn’t look good. At the top of his lungs the 5-year-old screamed at his brother, “Just stop it! Just stop it you stupid-head!” stuck out his tongue and then pushed past me to run up the stairs. The 11-year-old couldn’t help but break into a full smile at that point. With feigned innocence he turned to me and said, “What?“
I gave him “the look” and continued up the stairs. Tired. Out of “parenting” ideas. And wondering “Who are these children?”
I plopped down on my bed and went through the actions I’d taken over the past few months to try to guide my children into better, more respectful, more responsible behavior. The reminder signs. The consequences. The reasoning. But really…nothing seemed to be working all that great.
Reluctantly, I reached over and pulled the book off my nightstand. I didn’t want to do it. Hadn’t I already read enough parenting books? But, I admitted to myself, I needed some fresh thoughts on the matter.
As I flipped through the pages, little nuggets of wisdom seemed to call out to me.
“They are growing up but they are not grown-up.”
“Don’t take your child’s behavior personally.”
“Be curious enough to try to understand your child’s point of view.”
“You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.”
And then I came across a sentence. A simple sentence but one that made me slam the book shut. To sigh and shake my head. To realize that a bit of the truth was staring me right in the face.
“Sometimes you get the best results by forgetting about the behavior and focusing on the relationship.”
Wasn’t it true that I’d been spending an inordinate amount of time on my stuff? My writing. My photographs. My appointments. My projects around the house. My incessant need to cook…stuff.
Oh, yeah, I had been putting up my responsibility reminder lists, making sure they got their hour of weeding in on the weekends, their homework done, their beds made, dishes done…but had I really been spending any time with them? Focused time?
I’d even caught myself recently thinking, “I really should take my little guy to the playground.” But I didn’t.
Knowing that the kiddos were out of school on Monday, I made a promise to myself. I would take them to do something fun. Something they would really like. And I would just enjoy each one of them. Their company. I would put aside all thoughts of “To Dos” and “Goals.”
So, I put all of my chickens in the car and we headed downtown for a movie. And not just any movie. But the “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” movie in 3D. (Let it be known that this was not the first choice of the 11-year-old. But he was a very good sport.) As I looked down the row at my three chickens with their glasses on, the 5-year-old munching away on his popcorn and everyone smiling, I couldn’t help but smile myself. Later, we putzed around. Chatted. No real agenda except to be back in time for dinner.
That evening I learned that the 5-year-old had changed his name to Justin after discovering that he could “swish” his hair like his namesake. This is the type of situation that would normally set-off a litany of taunting and teasing by his older brother. But not this time. Instead, I found him kindly combing his little brother’s hair into the proper swish, helping him put on a “Justin Bieber outfit” and then, leading him downstairs to pound away on our old, beat-up drum set.
And that night, instead of giving my daughter the rushed, “Good night,” I laid down on her bed. With her. And we talked. She talked. Late into the evening. She covered all manner of subjects. Homework. Friends. All those stresses of middle school. And when I finally got up to go, she said to me, “Mom….?”
“Thanks for today.”
“You are so welcome.”
So this morning, as snowflakes gently fall out my window, I mix up my oats, my cinnamon, my almonds. Individual ingredients that will eventually make-up a whole finished product. A batch of homemade granola. Or perhaps oatmeal cookies. Similar ingredients that produce uniquely different results. And I think to myself, “It’s hard, isn’t it? This delicate balancing act. Trying to figure out when to focus on teaching responsibility and respect and an entire encyclopedia of other attributes to our children and when…to let go of all of that and simply enjoy them. As people.”
Nutty Granola and Oatmeal Cookies: Similar Ingredients…Completely Different Results
Okay, this week, you’re getting two recipes….you lucky people you. The first is a batch of homemade granola. I tossed in a little of this and a little of that…which is the beauty of granola…and “Voila!” delicious. So, if you don’t have all of the ingredients, no biggie. Use what you have. Then, I got crazy and took that homemade granola and put it into oatmeal cookies. (Don’t tell the Rooster though. He recently asked me for a batch of oatmeal cookies but said, “Nothing crazy. No crazy ingredients. Just a plain oatmeal cookie.” I can’t help myself.) Both are the perfect antidote for a pensive, snowy day.
A Nutty Homemade Granola
Delicious plain, on yogurt, with milk, sprinkled over ice cream. And as a side note, I tend to have a lot of different nuts around. (I mean the ingredient, not my children.) I buy them in bulk and store them in the freezer where they keep beautifully for months and months.
3 c old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 c raisins
1/2 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 c pecan pieces
1/2 c walnut pieces
1/2 c almonds, chopped or not, your choice
2 tbsp golden flax seed
1 tbsp wheat germ
1/2 c pure maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Either grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together your dry ingredients: oats, raisins, coconut, pecans, walnuts, almonds, flax seed, wheat germ, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Then add in your maple syrup and olive oil. Stir until mixture is evenly coated with syrup and oil.
Pour out onto cookie sheet and spread evenly. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through baking time. Allow to cook a bit and then, start snacking. Once cooled completely, store in an air-tight container. Enjoy…..
Yield: 5 cups or so
Crunchy Granola Oatmeal Cookies
Inspired by Mrs. King’s Irresistibles in Rose’s Christmas Cookies
Obviously, I used the homemade granola I had made at home but you can use store-bought granola. Just make sure it’s unsweetened or lightly-sweetened or it will be too sugary. If your granola does not have any nuts in it, you might want to consider decreasing the granola amount to 1 1/2 cups and adding in 1 cup of your favorite toasted nuts…walnuts, pecans, almonds.
2 c homemade granola *see note above
1 c old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 c unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Into a small bowl, pour in your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk together well. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat your sugars until well blended. Add in your butter and beat until smooth and creamy. Scraping down the sides. Beat in your eggs and vanilla until well incorporated. At low speed, add your flour mixture and mix just until combined. With a wooden spoon or spatula, gently fold in your granola, oats and chocolate chips just until evenly distributed in the dough.
Drop the dough by large, rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, 1-2 inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes or just until the tops are turning light brown. (Better to underbake than overbake.)
Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then, transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a few weeks or in the freezer for several months.
Yield: About 3 dozen
Thank you, thank you, my dear friends!
I can hardly believe it but this post marks my 99th. Holy Catfish, is all I can say!! Holy Catfish and thank you! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for reading my musings (especially when I get a little long-winded.) For trying out my recipes. For kindly viewing my photographs. For buying my calendars. For thoughtfully letting me know when something I wrote made you laugh or cry. When you thought a photograph was “extra-purdy.” Or a recipe extra-scrumptious.
I must do something extra-special for the 100th post. You deserve it. I deserve it. But what?
A Quick Note
Just in case you were curious…my all time favorite parenting books are from the Positive Discipline series. A dear friend of mine who is a teacher turned me on to them when my eldest was still a baby. Of course, as with any type of advice book, I don’t necessarily agree with everything the author has to say…but definitely with most of it. I just recently bought the Positive Discipline for Teenagers. So telling….eh? The author uses the word “discipline” in its true sense and that is, “to teach.” And really, as parents, that’s what we are…teachers. Right? Well, sometimes I’m a pack mule too, but that’s a different story.
Stopped by AM Northwest last week to mix up a pot of Hearty Lentil Soup with Helen and Dave. Was a hoot, as always.
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All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010