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Life in Categories

As I sat down to write this post, I thought, "Wow, I don't know what I want to talk about this week." In my world, so many issues come up on a daily basis related to parenting that by Friday, I'm just trying to sort through them. How do you sort? Develop categories, of course. The categories for today's topics are: Utterly Hilarious (a few of my children need talent agents; if you know some trustworthy ones, contact me), Thought-provoking, and Potentially Troubling.

Utterly Hilarious: I had just come home from a three-day women's retreat in Pennsylvania and I was happy to see my family. My mother-in-law had come in from Detroit to hold down the fort, so my husband didn't have to take off work (but still, having his mother there instead of me isn't easy). After the kids jumped all over me, I made my way to my husband, gave him a kiss and told him, "Thank you."

Within seconds, I hear this thump.

My 4-year-old is lying on the floor, covering her face with her hands.

"Niara, are you okay? What happened?"

"You guys were kissing and it burned my eyes and knocked me off my feet."

Is she off the hook, or what? Talent agents, email me.

Thought-provoking: This week, I took Kiserian and Niara to a small grocery store that I rarely patronize. This was the closest place I could go to get drinking water filtered by reverse osmosis — my eldest daughter is taking a natural health class, and her teacher broke down all of the different bottled waters/methods, etc., so this is the one we're using now. As we were leaving the store, a young boy, age 10 or 11, was standing outside the doors. He offered to help me take the case of water to my car. I politely declined.

"Mommy, why is that boy waiting outside of the store by himself? Is he just trying to be helpful like me?" Oh, my super-sensitive and giving 6-year-old son... What do you say to him, Shawn?

"No honey, he's standing there because he needs money."

"Oh. Is he homeless?"

We had a discussion about homelessness when a homeless man showed up at our door last fall. But my 4-year-old daughter hasn't gotten it yet.

"Kiserian, no one can be homeless," she says. "That's stupid. He's just a kid."

"Honey, that's not true. People can be homeless, even kids." Her face turns sad and confused.

My son wants to help: "Mommy, I have money — can I go give him some of mine?"

"No, Kiserian, let's pray for his safety when we get home."

I played the conversation over in my mind for days. What do I do? What do I say? I'm an activist at heart, but I'm also a protector, and a teacher. How do you explain wealth disparity in America to your children? I've already nurtured sensitivity and concern. At what age do you nurture action?

Potentially Troubling: I am quietly observing, well, not so quietly observing, that my daughter has become the target of a bully. You wonder how it happens in a homeschooling environment? Our family is part of a homeschooling group, and we interact with the other families three to four times a week, just like a school setting. I'm so glad that I am raising a confident and patient daughter who is building a resistance to this jealous and petty child, but the problem is...me.

I believe that once my daughter puts this young lady in her place, verbally or physically (yes, I said it), this foolishness will stop. We are friends with the family, but my husband has asked me to stay out of it, and let my daughter determine her own limits and set her own boundaries. Ooooh, that is so easy for a man to say! He doesn't hear his friends talking about the revenge they still crave on their childhood bullies some 15 or 20 years later.

I've read articles and heard about recent television shows on girls and bullies, but I didn't think we'd have to deal with it at age 12. Good thing I'm not 12 anymore because my mother fully supported the "beat a bully down" scenario. I better remind my daughter not to tell her grandmother what's going on. This could get ugly.

???

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