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Independence Day, Part 2
Friday, 30 May 2014

In my last post, I shared the rules my family put together for our first ever Independence Day – a day when the girls got to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, but had to be totally independent. They had to feed themselves, clean up after themselves, and if they wanted to go somewhere they had to get there under their own power and spend their own money.

So this past Monday we had our Independence Day, and let me tell you, it was a glorious thing.

First off, our top rule: no waking Mommy and Daddy. Unless the house was on fire.

When we finally stumbled downstairs at 9 a.m. (NINE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING!) we found the girls sitting on the couch watching a movie and eating candy. “Have you had breakfast?” I asked.

“No,” Maddie replied, “We wanted bagels and we knew we couldn’t use the sharp knives to cut them so we waited for you.”

Apparently Maddie woke her sister at 7 a.m. – couldn’t wait any longer – and they got down to business right away, snacking and watching Cyberchase for about an hour before picking out a movie.

But did you catch the part where they didn’t wake us up? It was beautiful.

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Independence Day
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Several months ago I read about a family that periodically does and Independence Day: one day with no restrictions and no help. Eat what you want when you want, but make your own meal, get out your own bike, solve your own fight with your sister. We were intrigued with this idea and discussed it as a family, and decided to have our own Independence Day. We looked for a date on the calendar with no commitments and settled on Memorial Day.

So for the past few months Maddie and Cora have been planning and plotting their Independence Day with all the care and precision of a military maneuver. They’ve been saving up money so they could bike to the store and buy the BIG boxes of candy Mommy never lets them buy. They’ve negotiated a complex system for determining who gets to pick each movie during the day, and worked out who will spread the peanut butter and who’s in charge of the jelly while making lunches.

They were ready.

As Memorial Day grew near, I realized I may need to spell out a few ground rules when I overheard Cora enthusing about all the friends she was going to have over. Ahem.

So Sunday night I printed out our Independence Day rules and posted them on the wall where we hang all important family communications. Here they are, in all their glory:

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A Letter To Cora
Monday, 19 May 2014

Dear Cora:

Today is your birthday, sweet girl. Can you believe it? Seven years old! We spent all weekend celebrating your birthday in one seemingly endless fantasia: your oldest friend came in from out of town to surprise you Saturday morning and spend the whole weekend with you; we had a fun party riding horses on Saturday afternoon; and celebrated with family Sunday night. Plus chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, favorite lunches, and more – it’s been a looong weekend honoring you in our lives.

So in some ways the whole Age Seven thing seems old news; but in other ways – in Mommy Time – it’s still startling and a teensy bit unwelcome.

Just keeping it real here.

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And Sometimes They Really Listen
Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The past few weeks I’ve been despairing of Maddie’s selfish attitude; she’s astonishingly mean to her sister, and when she’s given two pieces of candy, the first words out of her mouth are usually, “And I am NOT sharing this with Cora, so don’t ask!”

I pray nightly for her heart to be changed: that she will think first of others, then herself. I’m not trying to raise a martyr, just someone who looks to serve others – and finds that joy in serving. I don’t think Maddie’s particularly bad or horrible; I think this is a phase, and I’m trying hard not to correct the actions, but the heart behind it. Sometimes, though, it’s hard going, and I feel like I’m speaking to deaf ears.

But then sometimes, something happens to show me that my girl is listening.

A few days ago we were walking to school, chatting about the upcoming day, when Maddie brought up the subject of recess.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to play today at recess; today is a ‘free’ day for me and Elise.”

Curious, I asked, “Isn’t every recess free time? I didn’t think recess was programmed.”

“Well,” Maddie said, “Not every recess is free, since Anna is out of town.”


I asked Maddie to elaborate.

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To Cora
Friday, 09 May 2014

Li’l Bit, this is a tough time for you right now.

You, my friend, have such a big heart. And as we’ve talked about – a LOT – recently, Big Hearts tend to have Big Feelings. And sometimes those Big Feelings are hard to control.

Which means you’ve spilled more than your fair share of tears these past few weeks.

Here’s what happens: you get cranked up about something – Maddie not wearing the correct headphones, or my not remembering that you’d already cleaned the litter box – and then have a really hard time getting around it. And you feel like no one’s listening to you, and you get angrier and angrier and more and more frustrated, and you lash out. Like, physically, with your feet, or screaming, with your voice.

And then you burst into tears and collapse on your bed, sobbing. For a long. Time.

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