I feel like we should let
the cat out of the bag.  

We as parents can only try our best.
 That’s it.  There is just not a set of Pinterest boards to help us
all know how to deal with a child.  Nope.  Each kid is different and
each situation is different.  Thus we work with the clues we have. We
pray, ask for wisdom, read, and hope that we are making the right choices.
 If we are smart we also look backward to how our parents reacted.
 We can learn so much from our parents and grandparents, both in what to
do and what not to do.  I hope my kids do the same because there is much I
don’t want them to emulate in parenting from me!  But I do hope there are
a few nuggets of wisdom that can be passed on.  
Ok, enough rambling. Here’s the
reason I’m writing.  I was blown away by my oldest yesterday.  She is
eleven, and every bit of it – the good, the bad, the hormonal.  The current term is “tween”.  I’m
sure I had never heard that before the last ten years, but it’s a term that
seems rather true.  She loves her American Girl dolls and yet wants to
cook the family dinner.  
This is an amazing time, yet I often
think I don’t stop to enjoy it nearly enough.  We are a busy family with
everyone having a their own demanding schedules.  We own our own small
business, one daughter lives for ballet and friends, the other enjoys dance and
gymnastics, plus my husband works full-time outside of the home.  We are
the poster children for the on-the-go family.  Over the last couple of
years I have cut out many distractions from our family so we could slow down –
but even with those things cut out, we are just busy!  Your family is busy
as well.  This is modern life.  
With these things happening I hadn’t
realized how messy the 11- year-old’s room had become.  One night as I was
tucking the girls in bed and praying over them, I turned around and nearly
fell.  Wow! Every surface was
covered and the floor had a good deal of loot out as well!  Because I knew
we had been busy, I didn’t yell or fuss, but I did give a warning.  She
would have the next several days to find time to clean this up or the items
were going to walk away.  Do you think this worked?  
I reminded her the next couple of
days.  Her father reminded her.  
Nothing changed.  
So one night I went in with a plastic
bag.  Dolls, books, jewelry, clothes, iPods and such.  It’s interesting what
is out in a tweens room.  Not as many toys anymore, but what a mess!
  And every bit of it went into the bag.  She was not happy. 
Too bad. 
So then it came to what to do about
this.  Her father and I decided to ask her to write an essay as to why
it’s important to keep a room clean.  She would write out why we have
rules and help earn back her “stuff”.  
A day later, she hands us the essay,
and what was written blew me away.  Regardless of what we think, kids truly
are listening.  I often feel like I’m talking to myself, or to a brick
wall, or to the dogs.  The kids seem to just smile and keep doing what
they are doing.  It can be maddening.  My oldest is much like her
father – lovable, so profoundly different from normal human beings like myself.
 They are introverts.  They are internal processors.  They do
not need to verbally process much of anything.  But, having processed an
issue, what comes out is rather magical.  I’d like to share with you her
own thoughts, the results of a week of processing.  

We’re going to talk about why you should keep your room clean
and how you can do it.  First of all, keeping your room clean will
help you want to be there more.  It can also help you have a better
night sleep.  You can keep your room clean by organizing into
groups.  Like dolls, tools, jewelry, art, and toy
animals.  When your organizing you should also be going through your
piles and choosing things you don’t like so you can sell it or give it

But you should never stuff things into drawers because your mom
or dad will find it later.  Always keep the top of your dresser clean
and your bedside table.  Never shove things into your closet for when
your friends come over you don’t want to be embarrassed.  If you have
a little brother or sister you should always keep small parts off the ground
for they could choke.  These are reasons why you keep your room clean
and how you can do it.  

Sometimes (okay, all of the time)
parenting isn’t easy.  It’s the hardest
thing we’ve ever done.  But these glimpses into into these little hearts
and minds make it so worth while!  This isn’t just about an essay as to
why to keep a room clean.  It’s about a child who is learning and trying
and growing.  She’s stuck in-between.  In between a child and a young lady.  Between immaturity and responsibility.  Between needing Mom and craving
independence.  I do miss the little
baby girl who would crawd up on me to nap.  But I’m so in love with this
tall, gangly, curly haired young lady that’s she somehow become.  I guess I’m in-between, too.
So although it’s taking time to put into action, she’s
getting it.  It’s in there.  I’m praying that over the next couple of
years it continues to work its way from the inside out. There’s generations of
wisdom in there, and for a moment I was stunned to see if spill out.  She
has been listening, and I was a bit humbled.  Humbled to be her mother,
humbles to watch her grow, humbled to lead and walk beside this curly-haired wonder
who continues to surprise and delight me.
{Oldest a few years ago, photo’s by www.mileswittboyer.com