The Great Outdoors

The Great Outdoors

For the last three years, our little family has spent a week of our summer at the Northwind Lodge in Minnesota. This year, we will not be able to make it. However, next year – we will anxiously return to create more memories. If you’re looking for an amazing (and incredibly peaceful) summer reprieve, please look into the Northwind Lodge. I assure you, you will not be disappointed!

https://visitnorthwind.com

https://www.facebook.com/northwindlodgeely/

Written in 2016:

I am sitting here on a picnic table outside of our cabin just north of Ely, Minnesota. The sun is shining warmly, the waterfall is loudly pushing water down the hill into the lake, the white-throated sparrow is singing “Oh, Sweet Canada” amidst the other birds singing their morning song, and I am watching as a ground squirrel sneaks the peanuts we left him. He stealthily takes them off of a rock, running away as if there won’t be another handful waiting for him when he gets back. It may be cliche to say, but life is good – so good.

We arrived Monday afternoon after Andrew and I drove all night, switching off drivers so the other could nap before the next shift. The girls traveled well, and they, too, slept in shifts happily keeping us company through the long drive.

The girls have heard plenty about past adventures to Minnesota and were excited to start a new adventure, adding a new state to their (and Andrew’s) repertoire. I came here with my parents every summer, my mom came with hers, and her dad came with his. Several generations of our family have been to some of the exact spots we have visited since our arrival.

We are staying at the Northwind Lodge on Jasper Lake. Previously, my family frequented the North Country Lodge, just one lake over on Moose Lake. For nostalgic purposes, we drove down to the lodge my family used to stay in – which has since been broken down into personal properties. Seeing the old lodge and its new life was an emotional endeavor. Luckily, we are here to make new memories and start new traditions.

Our cabin came with a boat, which we took out an hour after we settled in. Five minutes on the lake and we saw a bald eagle swoop down to catch a fish right in front of us. Nearby, an otter playfully popped his head in and out of the water. Loons calling from across the lake completed our first boat outing.

We played in the lake, starting a rock collection of our favorite striped and speckled stones. Due to the high iron content here, it is not unusual to find Jasper in bright red hues. Quartz crystals are always a favorite and each collection gathered is guaranteed to have several.

When I was little and would come with my parents, we would fish…and fish…and fish…frequenting our personal fishing spots known to produce an abundant supply of walleye. As you can imagine, my mom had to come up with lots of creative ways to entertain a young girl in a canoe for hours every day. Inevitably, there would be a day that would rain and on those days (the best fishing days, but the worst to keep a little girl happy in a boat), my dad would fish and my mom would drive me to town to go shopping. Rain days were my favorite.

Tuesday, we took the girls to town to shop, in the same stores that brought me such joy when I was little. I was thrilled to see they are all still thriving – so many years later. We ate lunch outside on the patio of the Chocolate Moose, a restaurant I’ve eaten in countless times before. The girls picked out souvenir shirts and purses, binoculars, and a net to catch minnows.

Before we made it back to our cabin, we made another nostalgic and educational stop at the International Wolf Center. The girls were able to learn all about wolves, but unfortunately were unable to see one – maybe the next time we come to Minnesota.

Coming back to the cabin, we took a paddle boat out on the lake before grilling blueberry brats for dinner and s’mores for dessert. The girls and I fell asleep early, but Andrew had stayed up to watch for the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) that we heard might make an appearance. Thankfully, Andrew woke Kendall up and was able to take her to see the green lights of the Aurora Borealis dance across the sky, before she fell peacefully back to sleep.

The Northern Lights have not been visible here for weeks and are not a nightly occurrence. We are very lucky that this trip provided the opportunity to witness such a phenomenal light show. My heart couldn’t be happier that Andrew and Kendall were able to witness them together.

(To be continued)

© 2019 Lauren Johnson; http://livingthroughherlegacy.com

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Showing Compassion

Showing Compassion

“Who makes mommy happy?”

“Me!”

“And who else?”

“Kendall!”

“That’s right! You two make mommy soooo happy.”

There isn’t a single day that goes by that we don’t have this exact conversation, and usually more than once. I hope my girls always know how much they are loved, even on those days when they feel completely alone or broken hearted, they are always loved so much.

I never questioned whether my mom loved me, not once. She told me often, but more importantly she taught me HOW to love. She taught me love, compassion, empathy and respect for others. She showed me how to be selfless and giving; beautiful on the inside. I try my very best to teach my girls these traits.

I read once that compassion is the antonym to bullying. Having compassion for others, taking the time to really understand them and remember that each individual is different – wouldn’t that prevent you from harboring hate? What if we gave everyone a chance before judging them, or picking on someone for being different from us? What if we just level the playing field? We are all in this for ourselves, but we are ultimately in this for each other; the greater good.

This week, at dance class, there was a little girl pushing the other little girls. Finally, her mom got up, took the little girl out of class and said to the rest of us, “I’m sorry, but my daughter is NOT going to be a bully.” When she took her out of class, she didn’t yell at her. Instead, she had her daughter, tears welling in her eyes, watch the rest of the class. She sat and calmly (along with her father, the little girl’s grandpa) and explained to the little girl why her behavior was inappropriate. I commend that mom, she taught that little girl not only that pushing/bullying is wrong, but she remedied it with compassion.

I read on Facebook this week that a friend of mine, one who recently lost her husband, was finally getting back out and trying new things solo. She joined trivia night and had something weekly that she could look forward to. She said that her team wouldn’t always have the answers, but they had a lot of fun playing together. That is, until another team consistently made fun of them, and now my friend has quit her team and seemingly lost confidence in herself.

According to the dictionary, a bully is “a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.” Had they known my friend recently lost her husband or her story, would they have shown compassion? Why were they unable to show compassion regardless of her story? Why are we a nation full of bullies and bullying; a bunch of people who feel that they are entitled to treat people in any way other than just plain nice?

When I take these two stories and think about the impact compassion had, versus the impact that bullying has, it is clear to me that my job as a human being and as a mom, is to show as much compassion as I can. To do what is right, no matter how hard that is. To not turn the other way, when I know something is wrong but rather do the best I can to make things right. What impact do I want to have on my children and on this world? I want to live my life – everyday – knowing that I did what was right, or at the very least that I tried my very best.

“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.”

⁃ Frederick Buechner

© 2019 Lauren Johnson; http://livingthroughherlegacy.com

Our little Lovey Dovey

Our little Lovey Dovey

At an early three weeks along, we found out we were pregnant. At almost 9 weeks, we lost the baby – still unsure of why to this day. Devastated, the word “baby” tore my heart apart for months. I will never forget that day, or the emotions that surround it.

Four months later, unbeknownst to us, our “Rainbow Baby” was conceived. Careful to not share the news too early, we were elated when were able to announce to family that Kendall Nicole was due on April 8, 2012. A high risk pregnancy resulted in extra sonograms and fetal monitoring. During a bi-weekly routine visit, our doctor told me that our baby was coming two-and-a-half weeks early, “today!”

I headed for the hospital with an unknown journey ahead of me. Waking up on that Tuesday morning – the first day of Spring and my late Grammy’s birthday – I had no idea that day would forever be one of the very best days of my life.

In the last seven years, our little angel baby has given me so much joy; brought me to tears with pride; made me laugh until my cheeks hurt; taught me how to live, love and be a mommy; challenged me to new depths; encouraged me, pushed me, inspired me; seen me at my best and my worst; and loved me unconditionally, just as I have her.

She is loved by everyone who knows her, and she has yet to meet a stranger. She is outgoing and bubbly, full of everlasting energy. She’s beautiful and not just on the outside – she’s got a big heart made of solid gold, always wanting to help someone who needs it – sometimes even those who don’t. She’s funny – full of wit and spunk. She’s sensitive, her feelings get hurt a little easily and she wears her heart on her sleeve, but she’s resilient and doesn’t let it keep her down.

She’s smart, man is she smart. She doesn’t let anything slip by her. She observes, takes everything in, and then analyzes the information surprisingly accurately. She’s intuitive and inquisitive and she retains EVERYTHING.

She wants to be good, but knows the exact times she can get by with being “bad”. She’s dramatic, constantly keeping us on our toes. She’s a darn good big sister, and a proud little sister. She’s humble and giving, despite being a little spoiled.

She loves to play; she loves hugs (and sometimes kisses); she loves to be tickled; she likes to feel grown up, but likes to be “babied” sometimes, too; she is honest (except when she doesn’t know why her sister is crying); she loves to sing and dance and she does them both anytime and anywhere; she loves ice cream and pizza lunchables; she loves princesses, magic, and the colors pink and orange. She is unique, independent and exudes confidence. She never ceases to amaze me.

I often look at Kendall (and Collins) and wonder what I could have ever done in life to deserve someone so special to call my daughter(s) – I sure am one very lucky momma!

In honor of Collie’s birthday week, I would like to share an article that my mom wrote about Kendall. On Collie’s birthday, I will also share the one my mom penned about her. Birthdays are often emotional and difficult, but the opportunity to both share and read the words my mom has written, allow us to continue to live on through her legacy.

Vernal Princess

by

Carol McFeeters Thompson

Welcome to the world my beautiful granddaughter, born on the first day of spring. Your birth day was the vernal equinox, one of the great solar festivals marking the spring day when the sun crosses directly over the earth’s equator and day and night are about equal in length. Just as the dawn is a time of new light, the vernal equinox is a time of new life, of wild flowers, and budding leaves, and birdsong, when after a long winter we are assured that life will continue. What a special day to meet you for the first time!

I gaze at you as you sleep, your face so perfectly peaceful, innocent, and angelic, and my mind is awhirl with all of the wonders that I want to show you. I will share with you the magic of all of my favorite things and help you to find your own niche in the world.

We’ll lie on our backs in the sweet green grass and watch fluffy white cumulus clouds piling up on the horizon. We’ll run for the porch when we see the first jagged bolts of white-hot lightning threading across a purple sky in the distance, and count the seconds until the first crack of thunder. When the tempest has passed, we’ll don red rubber boots to stomp and splash in the mud puddles the storm left behind. We’ll marvel at the myriad colors of the rainbow and try to chase it to its source to find the fabled pot of gold.

We’ll watch for “little people” beneath the umbrellas of the may apples and hear their excited chatter in the gurgling of a stream. We’ll eat blackberries and strawberries and ice cream before dinner.

We’ll go down to the pond, find tracks in the mud and read the stories they chronicle. We’ll watch Canada geese lead rafts of fuzzy bronze goslings. We’ll listen to the spring frog chorus, catch tadpoles and toadpoles with homemade nets, and watch their miraculous transformations to frogs and toads. We’ll wonder at glittering dragonflies dancing above sun-spangled ripples.

The natural world is such a beautiful place!

We’ll catch the first swirling, twirling snowflakes of winter on our mittens, and eyelashes and feel them melt on our tongues. We’ll try to find two that are exactly alike as we marvel at their intricate six-pointed perfection. We’ll delight that each sparkles like diamonds in silvery moonlight.

I want to show you mountains and waterfalls, vast prairies, forests, and oceans, and capture your imagination with the lazy soaring of eagles on invisible air currents and the eerie tremolo of a loon echoing across a northern lake. We’ll share the fluttering of butterflies, the meanderings of ants, and we’ll fiddle for water striders that dimple the surface tension. We’ll twirl in a meadow filled with twinkling fireflies and try to converse with them with the beam of a flashlight.

We’ll gaze at the shimmering curtains of the aurora borealis across the great wash of the Milky Way; compare Betelgeuse the red star and Rigel the blue star, both part of the constellation Orion the Giant. I’ll tell you the myths and stories along a walk across the heavens. And we’ll make wishes on showers of stardust.

We’ll make castles of sand and twig boats to sail puddles, skip rocks on the lake, make an acorn cap whistle, and poke a fire with a stick.

Together, we’ll celebrate life and all Nature’s wonders. I’ll see the world through your eyes and you’ll see it through mine.

© 2019 Lauren Johnson; http://livingthroughherlegacy.com

Please, just look away

Please, just look away

Of the two children born to me, I have one introvert and one extrovert. The oldest will greet a stranger with a hello and instantly become the best of friends; the youngest takes time to warm up to others – she has literally taken years to form some of the stable relationships she has now.

The oldest will try new foods and eat what’s on her plate; the youngest will eat applesauce and maybe a bowl of cereal – some days she “hates” both, leaving it difficult to satisfy her hunger on a daily basis. The oldest will maintain composure and knows the difference between “acting right” and “wrong”, leaving her meltdowns usually solely for me (her mother) at home and rarely ever throws a fit around others (except her dad); the youngest will have a meltdown anywhere, anytime, going from the happiest girl you’ve ever met to an unrecognizable human being in a matter of mere seconds.

My children are not alike, and it took me a long time to be able to mother them both separately without comparison. I’m now used to the fits/meltdowns of my youngest. I know when they’re beginning, I know the process, and I know when the end is near. She has had these fits since she was a baby, and I mean embarrassing, all-out apparent temper tantrums. Sometimes they would last hours and we would have several a day. Sometimes, they would be every day for a week; sometimes there would be a week between times. On top of a meltdown (which by the way HAS to fully end on its own – there is nothing at ALL that can be done to make it better from anyone else), she has severe OCD and many sensory issues.

 

Several doctors (including a neurologist) have cleared our daughter of the possibility of having any psychological or behavioral disorders. Additionally, I was certain she was autistic and was told she is not on the spectrum; she simply has an inability to self-soothe. Part of that is my fault. As a newborn baby, she and I (and the rest of our family, of course) were in and out of hospitals and nursing homes, etc. with my mom and I constantly held her – she was rarely ever put down. She has slept with us since the day we brought her home from the hospital, and I nursed her until she was 2 1/2. It brings (and has always brought) me comfort to know she is close to me, alternatively it does the same for her; but as a consequence, she could not function for a long time without being right beside me (usually on my left hip) – we have climbed mountains in her independence.

 

Currently, she is nearing five and it is up to her to overcome some of these issues and I can’t help her (I mean, that IS part of what has contributed to this in the first place). She has to be told no, and she has to accept what it means. She doesn’t throw a fit simply by being told no, but there are triggers to a meltdown and sometimes it is “no” and funny enough, sometimes even a “yes” answer will cause one – it depends on whether or not she is hungry, and whether or not she slept well (and enough) the night before.

From the outside, maybe it appears as though my daughter is a spoiled brat. Maybe it appears as though she needs a good spanking or a hug (depending on what type of parent YOU are). Maybe I should yell at her or make her leave the store. But, I still need the groceries or I still want to eat the dinner – whether we are experiencing a meltdown or not. Believe me when I tell you that it is has been incredibly exhausting at times. It has brought me to me knees in tears, as it instantly zapped every ounce of energy I had to face the day. It has made me furious. It has, at times, not affected me in the slightest because at this point, I know that it’s just part of it.

Here’s where the learning point comes in for everyone else. Maybe your child was like my oldest – eager to please and happy (mostly) about life. Maybe your child didn’t have fits, or maybe your child was excited to eat carrots and broccoli. My child is not like your child.

In her own ways, my youngest child is unique and amazing and so, so smart. She is beautiful and downright hilarious. She loves hugs and gives “smoochies” and thinks I’m incredible. She is excited and grateful and loves big. Also, she has fits.

How do her fits in public affect you? Well, they make you uncomfortable. You have to listen to MY child cry and you can’t do anything to make it stop and it seemingly goes onnnnn and onnnnn. Let me tell you that momma and daddy ears ring about 10 times louder while (what feels like) electricity jolts through our bodies. I promise you that if we could make it stop, we would.

 

Maybe you don’t know that my child was jumping with joy about Oreos (because mommy RARELY buys them) about 20 minutes prior, but when mommy gave her 3 (it was right before lunch, afterall) – she complained because she wanted to eat them out of the package (that pesky OCD kicked in again) and mommy said no because mommy had put them on a plate to eat in the car (my attempt at minimizing hundreds of chocolate crumbs from landing on my tan interior) – and that’s what started the fit. The fit that lasted all the way to town, on our way to have lunch with Papa. She didn’t get the Oreos. She didn’t get them because we don’t reward bad behavior AND the fit would’ve happened anyway. It wouldn’t have stopped because once it starts, it has to make its way to the end. On its own. I know that about my child, you don’t because you don’t know her.

The same fit lasted in the parking lot, up the stairs and to the outside door of the restaurant. She screamed, and jumped up and down, and cried. When she scraped her leg on the stairs (while jumping up and down) she yelled “you’re hurting me,” her immediate response to any pain she causes herself in a fit (again, I know this because I have experienced it- a lot). She continued to throw a fit while a customer inside (unbeknownst to me at the time) essentially told the waitress that I must be outside beating my child (which I assure you, I was not). The same customer who turned completely around in her chair to glare at me when I walked in with a crying child. The same customer who maintained eye contact while I took my daughter to the bathroom (despite me literally saying to her, “she’s having a fit, you can stop staring at me”), and continued to stare as we came out of the bathroom. That lady – doesn’t know my child (or me), and I sure wish she wouldn’t have passed judgement on a situation she knew nothing about. If she only knew how many times people have done something similar to my daughter (or me), and, that it hurts.

The customer didn’t know that because we took our daughter to a Jojo concert in Chicago the day before, she had slept in the car on the way home and therefore didn’t sleep well during the night. She was tired and that is the main ingredient for a full-blown fit. Instead, she passed judgement on her – and me as a mom.

When I hear a child scream in public, I look the other way. The last thing a parent needs is a look of disgust from a stranger on top of an already totally exhausting parenting experience. Thank you to the couple who sat next to us (and we later ran into at the grocery store as my girls were laughing and skipping while they raced to the shopping cart) and smiled at us, chatting between bites (of applesauce of course); and thank you to the waitress who brought both of the girls a surprise bowl of ice cream at the end of our lunch (as an apology for the very obvious and foul way the customer had reacted). The next time you see a screaming/crying/fit-throwing child (assuming the child is not in eminent danger), please, don’t try to help, don’t stare and do not judge. You have no idea what is going on, but just know that the child (AND his/her mom/dad/sister/brother/papa) is exhausted – please, just look away.

© 2019 Lauren Johnson; http://livingthroughherlegacy.com

Happy Birthday, Maxwell Kent

Happy Birthday, Maxwell Kent

Written almost three years ago, but still an appropriate homage to Max, a very special boy {excuse me, young man – 15 already?!} in my life!

I went to bed last Tuesday night, expecting the following day to go one way, only to wake up to a completely readjusted schedule. I had planned to take a loved one for a surgical procedure in the morning and then attend the semester’s first night of on-campus class that evening. Due to the snow, both events were canceled. Sometimes, life just has that remarkable way of working out. This change in schedule allowed for playing in the snow with the girls during the day, followed by the opportunity to be at home in the evening when Max arrived, to celebrate his twelfth birthday.

I have known Max for the majority of his life. I was present for his very first birthday, and have now spent the last six birthdays celebrating both the little boy he once was, and the young man he has more recently become.

Max has always been a very handsome boy, but his tender and loving heart is what sets him apart from the rest. I will never forget the first time I fell asleep with him cuddled up in my arms or how special I felt the first time he told me he loved me, giving me a beautiful hand drawn picture that I still have.

I imagine it must be difficult to have divorced parents. I know I have not always been the best at my step-mom role, but I have always tried hard and had the best intentions in mind. I’m thankful to both of Max’s parents for my opportunity to love, learn from, and grow with, their son. I remember my mom telling me on several occasions that there is not a manual that comes with new parents, teaching them how to successfully raise that particular child. Unfortunately, there is not a manual for step-parents, either (although there are a million people with a variety of opinions). Generally, you just do the best you can and hope that is good enough.

I have always been lucky to have Max, and his sister, Maci, in my life. We have done some incredible things together, making memories that I hope they will take with them into their adult lives.

We were all laughing the other day about our Wisconsin ski trip about six years ago. It was a complete disaster, from Max with an unstoppable nosebleed in the middle of the bunny hill to Maci flying down the same hill, somehow stopping gracefully at the bottom to catch herself on a picnic table that we were sure she was going to crash into.

More recently, we flew to Fort Myers Beach, Florida. We stayed right on the beach, went parasailing, and caught hundreds of live sand dollars. To highlight a few of my other favorite trips: We have canoed down Sugar Creek in Indiana, camped at Indiana beach, and stayed in St. Louis to watch the Cardinals play baseball. We have gone to concerts, taken the train to Chicago to the Shedd Aquarium – stopping to watch Frozen on Ice, and we spent a weekend for my last birthday in a cabin near Starved Rock. Closer to home, we have spent numerous times playing at Weldon Springs catching wooly worms, paddle-boating, going fishing, having cookouts, finding four-leaf clovers and watching the hummingbirds.

As a family, we have also stayed home and enjoyed the pleasure of each other’s company, spending quality time together doing nothing but just that. Our memories together are countless, and I know they will not remember them all, but I hope that at least one sticks out to each of them and they will forever hold it in a special place in their hearts.

So, to Max on his twelfth birthday:

Happy birthday, buddy. It has been a remarkable journey together so far. I have enjoyed watching you grow each year. I apologize for my shortcomings, but I have never had anything but love for you. I don’t say it enough, but I am very proud of you. You are the best big (and little) brother, you are a dedicated friend and athlete, you are an outstanding student and a loving son (and step-son). I hope this year brings you many new memories and experiences, but allows you to remember the old. Thank you for sharing your life with me, the good and the bad.

“I didn’t give you the gift of life, life gave me the gift of you.” – anonymous

© 2019 Lauren Johnson; http://livingthroughherlegacy.com

Our love is like…

Our love is like…

I saw this long-winded post circulating on Facebook, describing love as “not always being a fairy tale,” how it’s not always “breakfast in bed” – it’s also fighting with each other and excruciatingly difficult at times (and about a half a dozen other negative descriptions ending with some positive attributes as well). I wish I could find it again to quote it directly, however, I instantly dismissed it as I read it (and I read it many times as many people shared it over and over). I guess that’s where I got lucky, my love IS a fairy tale.

My now-husband approached me on a whim, on a hot summer day nine years ago. He told me he was head-over-heels in love with me. I always knew I loved him, too, but I had no idea how much love I could have for another human being. That day could easily be marked as one of the best days of my life – the beginning of adventures, children, marriage and unfaltering love.

Did we fight? Sometimes in the beginning, as we found our balance – but it never defined our relationship. Do we fight now? No. In fact, I cannot even remember the last time we argued about anything at all – it’s certainly been years. I can’t say whether fighting is a healthy part of relationships, maybe in some cases it is. But, I just can’t think of a single thing we would fight about. I despise confrontation, especially with my significant other – why would I want to fight with the person I love the most?

In losing my mother, I realized that the old cliché saying, “life is short,” is a mantra to live by. Why dwell on the petty, mundane day-to-day? I have a life to live, and so does my husband, and so do our children, and fighting with each other is not how I want to spend it – it’s not how I want any of us to remember our time together.

I admire my husband. He still opens doors for me; still tells me I’m beautiful (despite my recent weight gain that often leaves me feeling less-than-desirable); he still kisses me goodbye; he still sends me a daily “good morning” text. I still get butterflies every time I see him; I still think he’s the most handsome man in the world; I still wonder why he chose me, why I’m so lucky and possibly so undeserving of this man and his love for me.

I don’t remember a time we ever had breakfast in bed, but we have had room service bring us creme brûlée and carrot cake (our favorites); he still woos me from time-to-time with a surprise bacon, egg and cheese biscuit; he knows that a fountain Diet Pepsi is sometimes exactly what I need; he takes me to my favorite restaurant for special occasions and often “just because”; we have eaten pastries in Paris before a visit to the Eiffel Tower; we have toasted s’mores over too many fires to count (and he doesn’t even eat them).

The excruciatingly difficult times we have endured were not BECAUSE of each other, but rather standing beside each other, hand-in-hand. There has not been a single time that my husband has not shown love and compassion; held me close, as my protector and my true love; he has never given up on me. I can only hope that he thinks the same way of me, as I do of him – I truly believe us to be soulmates.

So, as we celebrate nine years together, I look back on a million good times – choosing always to focus on them. I cannot say a bad thing about this man, the one that I have chosen, the one that graciously chose me. I know, without a doubt, that I will always see our love as a real-life fairy tale. He will remain my Prince Charming for the rest of our days, and I sure hope there will be thousands more!

Jumping hurdles

Jumping hurdles

She fell up the stairs and scraped her knee. It wasn’t her first fall and it won’t be her last. It was, however, her first fall in front of her friends. She was embarrassed and I was instantly brought to tears. I felt bad for her, knowing she was embarrassed.

We had an emotional morning. A lot of them are that way lately. Part of it is that she is tired, part of it is her gaining her independence. She will no longer wear any clothing I help to pick out, even if we picked it out together the night before. My little girl that is so loving and so big hearted has started using the word “hate”. She “hates” that shirt, she “hates” school, some days, she “hates” me. That one stung the most, of course. If only her little four-year-old heart knew what she was saying to me, she would know how badly it hurts.

But that’s it, she’s four. She is learning and absorbing her surroundings like a sponge. We don’t use the word “hate” at our house. Ever. In fact, there are very few things that I could even say I hate. I mean, I could say that I hate that Kendall uses the word “hate”, but I try to verbally express myself in other ways. I try to convince Kendall to communicate honestly, but without negative consequences. “You don’t hate the shirt, you would like a different one better.”

Use “princess words” my mom used to say. I have tried to explain the difference between being pretty on the inside, not just on the outside. I wish I could wave my magic wand and know that neither of my girls will ever experience the heartache of malevolence, but more so, I hope they are never the ones to provoke others with this pain. It will never be acceptable to be the “mean girl.”

So what do you do to stop this behavior? Do I spank her, promoting hitting as a viable option, or punishment, for expressing your feelings? Do I yell, so that she now thinks yelling is an acceptable way to express yourself? Do I give in, teaching that if you yell loud and long enough, you will eventually get your way? I don’t really know the right answer to this question I have had such difficulty grappling with.

What I do know is that as I empathetically felt the pang of Kendall’s fall, with all of her witnesses, I realized just how resilient she truly is. Her teacher put a Doc Mcstuffins bandaid on her knee, instantly making her war wound worth bragging about. She proudly showed her friends her knee, automatically limping when they didn’t show enough solicitude.

I learned from watching her today. As we experience an obstacle (such as that pesky stair step that jumps right in our way), overcoming it only makes us stronger. I will inevitably hit a plethora of roadblocks with the girls, but we love each other and undoubtedly, we will successfully conquer them all.

“If you expect life to be easy, challenges will seem difficult. If you accept that challenges may occur, life will be easier.”

– Rob Liano

© 2018 Lauren Johnson; http://livingthroughherlegacy.com