Move On Mom

Playdates are usually fun for the mom and the kids until someone cries, gets tired, or doesn’t share. It’s been a couple of months since an incident in a playdate happened to us. It has taken me a while to write about it because I wasn’t ready to sift through my feelings and swallow my pride. Micah clearly is way over it and I, on the other hand, took a while to digest it.
Some months ago, Micah had a playdate with a friend. He was still busy eating lunch, as we all were, when his friend said he wanted to play. My son knows the rule about getting up during meal time. It’s a big no..NO. There will be mishaps here and there but for the most part, Micah knows he is not allowed to run around during meal time until we are all done. That goes for everyone including mom, dad, and Titus.
His friend was getting agitated so he came over and flipped Micah’s plate and water cup. Luckily, he was about 2 bites away from finishing his meal. (If it was a whole plate, I probably would be even more irritated.) The food spilled all over his clothes and water dripped down from his body to the floor.
My eyes grew wide open, my heart started to pound and my temper, well it began to rise. I was in shock. I was more in shock that his mom laughed at the situation as Micah sat there wet to his socks. He whispered quietly, “Mama, I’m all wet.” (In my head, I was like…YEAH CLEARLY!) I saw him looking at me, watching my reaction to the situation. Knowing that my son’s thought bubbles would go like, “Mmmm Wonder what my mom will do?” I smiled (on the outside but definitely not on the inside) and in a very controlled voice, “It’s ok Micah, let’s clean it up. It’s just water. It will dry up.” As we wiped up the spill, his friend started to whine and fuss. He was still upset that Micah hadn’t gotten up to play with him. He cried and yelled for Micah to come over. His mom just laughed it off and said he was tired.
After I cleaned up the mess, I excused myself and went to the bathroom. I needed a time-out. I was sorting through my feelings of anger and confusion. I quickly texted my husband, “Please pick up your phone in 5 minutes. Thanks.” I knew I needed an outlet and my poor husband was in for it. I prayed quietly and asked God to change my heart and calm my voice as we prepared to say goodbye. I told Micah to say goodbye since everyone was probably tired from the day and needed some down time (I needed to get out of there or it will not be pleasant.). When we got to the car, Micah hesitated to sit down and buckle up. He told me, “Mama, I need to go down and say sorry to Michael. He is crying. It’s Micah’s fault.” Oh!!! The fumes burned inside me even more. I gently said, “No Micah, that wasn’t your fault. He spilled water and food on you. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s time to go home now, ok?”
As we drove off, I quickly called my husband. Thankfully, he picked up. I ranted on and on about the whole situation and expressed how irritated I was. As I shared my feelings, I realized I was upset because they never apologized for what happened. It made me even more upset that Micah felt blamed for the situation because it was the other child who ended up crying. I was upset because his mom made excuses for him. I was upset because there was no remorse or sense of urgency to remedy the situation. I know it wasn’t really that bad, but I was after the principle. I told my husband that I was trying so hard to teach Micah how to play nice, share, and apologize when he is wrong and now that he is wronged, he wasn’t apologized to. WAHHH!!! AARGGGHHH!!!
Praise God for my patient husband. After I chewed his ear out with my frustration, he calmly said, “Are you done? I’m glad you were able to express your feelings. Why don’t we talk about it when I get home. I have to go to the court now.” I was A LOT calmer at this point and I agreed and thanked him for listening to me.
A few minutes later, Micah said, “Mama, are you ok? I think you should pray.” (GRRRRR!!!!!! I DIDN’T REALLY FEEL LIKE PRAYING AT ALL!) “You are right Micah. Let’s pray and thank God for today, huh?” I really tried hard to sound happy and sincere but I was struggling. In the midst of our prayer he says, “Mama, pray for Michael and auntie *his mom*.” I was like…MMM NO WAY! But clearly the Holy Spirit was using my 2-year-old to convict my hardened heart. I asked the Lord to bless them and change my heart towards the situation. After we said Amen, Micah said, “Mama. It’s all done. Ok? All done.” As if he was telling to never ever bring it up again. MOVE ON MOM! Everything is fine now. Boy did I struggle even more! I wrestled with God because I wasn’t done yet.
When Chris got home that night, I quickly said, “Micah, tell daddy what happened today.” He looked at me blankly and said, “Mama, it’s all done right?” But continued on to tell his dad briefly, “Michael threw water at me but it’s all done now Papa, right Mama?” Again, as if telling me to drop the case of the spilled water. I knew God was speaking to me. He was dealing with my heart and asking me to forgive and forget. But I just couldn’t get past it.
I discussed it again with Chris that night as we lay in bed. I just needed to share how slighted I felt. I was definitely crying over spilled milk (but in this case, water). I didn’t want Micah to feel like a bully and that everything is always his fault when he plays with Michael. But Chris, in a kind and gentle way pointed out, “Babe. Micah’s already done with it. He even told you multiple times that it’s all done right? I learned that it takes genuine forgiveness to move past a situation when we feel wronged. Micah has been over it since you guys prayed and you are still dwelling in self-pity and pride.” He continued on to say, “Micah is showing a lot more maturity and godliness in this situation than you are.” MMMM YEAH HE IS! I agreed.
We didn’t see each other for a while because our schedule got crazy. It wasn’t till recently that they asked to meet up with us again. I struggled as I read the text. I called my husband (again, my favorite go-to person for wisdom). I told him about meeting up and he quickly encouraged me to go. I had come up with a text stating I was unavailable and had lots to do because of the busy weekend ahead. But the Holy Spirit nudged me to hold off sending it. Chris told me that Micah needs to learn to deal with different people and different situations. And that I had to grow in dealing with how other parents discipline and respond to our children as well. He said, “This would be a good practice and that it would be a great way for you to show Christ love. It would be a perfect place to practice and apply the message we heard from our pastor last Sunday. Maybe you can win them over to Christ with your love.”
I knew in my heart he was right. He knew my to-do-list was long and needed to get checked off but he said growing in character was more important. Praise God for a godly husband! I responded and met up with Michael and his family with a smile. With a changed heart, I can say that it went much better than I anticipated. My son had a great time and seeing him deal with conflict (as it arose once again) made me appreciate his sincere and genuine heart even more. He dealt with it with ease and handled it with grace. He used his kind words and won his friend over with kindness. I learned to be gracious and respond in love and let my child take charge of himself. At the end of the day, I was glad I went. We all need a lesson or two on love, no matter how old we get.
Today, I came to the conclusion that at this time of my life, motherhood is my ministry and our playdates well, you can call them my mission field, where the character of both my boys and mine will grow and get tested. I pray we will truly reflect Christ in every situation and show love even in the most difficult circumstances. I’m grateful that God’s love overlooks my faults and this prompts me to do the same even if it’s hard. I’m still a work in progress and I’m thankful that God’s love will never give up on me. 🙂

PS: Real names weren’t used.

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Apple and Banana

Find out what’s on your baby’s mind! 

      Every parent keeps their ears open for the magical day when their little one utters his or her first recognizable word. In the meantime, we all relay on the cute cooing or the sweet smile or the loud cry or the desperate scream to understand what he or she is trying to say. Gestures and nonverbal sounds function as your child’s means of communication. It is his or her first language before the spoken word. These facial expressions, body movements and sounds are precursors for baby sign language. Baby sign is a great way for parents to bond with their children as well as to ease their frustration.  It is a perfect introduction to a lifelong communication that occurs between parent and child.

I was compelled to write this tonight, despite it being late and me being tired. I had to share my joy as a mom when my dear Micah signed back two words that I would randomly teach him during meal time. I started signing with Micah when he was 3 months old. I knew at that time he wouldn’t respond but I just did it anyway. (Please know that I did not know how to sign prior to having Micah. I just knew the alphabet and the potty sign. I read books, had flash cards and recorded Signing Time on TV so I can watch it during my free time.) But because I wanted him to learn how to communicate with me when the time came, I kept signing words as we went along. We even went to signing classes while we were in Manila. At 8 months, Micah signed milk for the first time. I was very excited! It encouraged me a lot and my sweet husband joined in the signing wagon! He started watching Signing Time with me and he would go through the flash cards while he ate breakfast right before he went to work. From milk to more, light to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, from bath and water, to signing 3 Little Ducks as we sang the song, words just kept coming. We found ourselves looking through flash cards and watching Signing Time on Saturdays to learn more signs to keep up with all the words he can learn.

Today, as Micah and I went through the fruit aisle at the local grocery store to gather our list of fruits, he started signing apple as I picked one up. He kept signing as I added more into the bag. He popped the banana sign as we walked by the banana stand. He signed want because I didn’t get the bananas. (They were too ripe.)  He looked at me as I got strawberries, unfortunately I didn’t know what the sign for strawberry was. I know it was just 2 new signs today but I was so encouraged because sometimes, I do feel like he is not learning anything and I will just wait till he can speak for him to communicate with me. But God in His sweet way encouraged me to keep signing because it is paying off.  I came home and tried learning how to sign grapes, avocadoes and strawberries. The veggies will come next. Micah is now able to sign please and thank you, ask for water, he asks us to come, let me know he is sleepy and wants to go to bed, play ball and other random simple words. From mealtime, to bath time, to playtime, to bedtime, Micah is able to let us know his needs using the signs he knows. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes, screaming is still involved but equipping him with the appropriate signs allows us to understand him the next time he may need or want something. He politely signs “please water” during meal time when he would like a glass of water or he would say yes or no when he is asked to make a choice.

We were in Cabo, Mexico last week for a family vacation and my in-laws were so impressed with how many words Micah could sign. They started learning some and by the end of the week, they were signing too. It was neat to see them want to communicate with their grandson.

Would signing interfere with a child’s speech development, a lot of parents ask? No. In fact, the opposite is true. It actually improves your child’s language and vocabulary. It enhances the language and not replace it.   Signs allow your child to make the connection between the spoken word and the gesture.  In time, your child will say the word or sign it while you say it. As your child’s spoken vocabulary grows, you can stop signing those words. However, you may still want to add signs to the new words you introduce. Although your child may be pronouncing certain words while signing, sometimes only one consonant or one syllable is clear. This is why modeling the sign is still useful—it will help you figure out what he is trying to say! Micah says “wawa” for water. We didn’t know what “wawa” meant but when he signed water right after, we figured it out!  Now, we know that “wawa” is water.

Top 10 Baby Signs Tips

(I’ve gathered these from book and personal experience; feel free to add more if you have any!)

1. Be patient and persistent! It takes a few months for your infant to sign his or her first one.

*It took me 8 months to get Micah to sign milk and more.

2. Get your child’s attention before you sign. If he is not looking at you, don’t sign. You are wasting your time.

3. Start with simple words or words your child can relate to: milk and more (It worked for us!) please and thank you, eat, water, light, cheese and bye-bye. You can eventually add to the list as you go on. As you both get more comfortable signing, you can add more words to the list especially those that interest him or her.

*Micah loves to drink milk and he loves to eat so milk and more worked quite well for us. He likes cheese a lot so he picked that up quickly too. My in-laws have a dog named Oreo. Whenever Micah would hear the word Oreo or dog or even see a picture of a dog, he would sign “dog”.  Now that Micah is interested in cars, trucks and balls, he has learned the signs for these as wel

4. Pair each spoken word with a sign and REPEAT it!

*Each time he asks for something, we sign please and say the word please, now he understands that he has to sign please when he asks for something. (repetition is highly encouraged!) Consistency is key!

5. Pay attention to your child.

*Sometimes your baby will create a variation of a sign, so just be flexible and follow your baby’s lead. It’s not as important to do the correct sign as it is to convey the correct message.

*The sign for water is a W and going to your mouth, Micah’s version is only the pointer finger to his mouth because he can’t form the W with his 3 fingers yet. Once you start becoming familiar with your child’s signs, you will be able to determine what he or she is trying to tell you.

6. Praise your child’s first attempts, this encourages him or her to continue to sign to you!

*I was shocked when Micah signed apple today at the store and I clapped and hugged him excitedly! He smiled and did it again as I placed the apples inside the bag. As I excitedly shared it with Chris, Micah pointed to the apple and signed it again for daddy! (daddy’s heart melted!)

7. Sign during daily routines and playtime (and anytime you know the sign for a word)

*Because I sign sleep and bed to him as I say, “Micah it’s time to go to sleep in your bed.”, he started signing sleep and bed when he got tired and wanted a nap during the day. He would even sign bed when he sees his bed.

8. Make signing fun!

Sign with your body, his body, with the doll’s or the teddy! Be creative and laugh while you are signing. Singing helps a lot especially when the words are repetitive. Make it interactive, engaging and exciting!

9. Get the whole family involved!

*You don’t have to do this alone! Get everyone in on the signing fun! This will give your child more opportunities to practice! This will help you with getting them to babysit too because they will know what your child needs!) That’s why my in-laws are signing too!

10. Don’t’give up! Don’t get lazy!

*Sometimes, you will get discouraged (especially in the beginning) but hang in there! Your baby will sign back to you (eventually). Once your baby masters a few words, he or she will be encouraged to do more and more! It’s a snowball effect of signs and words! It will be worth it!

More signs, less frustration for you and your baby!

Come sign with me! 
This is my favorite sign! Micah signs pray as we get ready to thank Jesus for all His blessings! His cue to sign pray is when we say "Dear Jesus" or "let's pray".

This is my favorite sign! Micah signs pray as we get ready to thank Jesus for all His blessings! His cue to sign pray is when we say “Dear Jesus” or “let’s pray”.

Micah has to sign "All Done" before he can be excused from the table.

Micah has to sign “All Done” before he can be excused from the table.

Micah signs “water” as he asks for a glass of water at the dinner table.

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Micah’s favorite mealtime signs!

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Our CHEAT SHEET! These are the flash cards my husband uses during breakfast.

I have one set upstairs and one set by the dining room! :)

I have one set upstairs and one set downstairs!

Rachel! She's a mom of 2 and the founder of Signing Time! We watch her on TV!

Rachel! She’s a mom of 2 and the founder of Signing Time! We watch her on TV!

I use this book as my sign dictionary during reading time. It has a lot of easy to follow signs for everyday things.

I use this book as my sign dictionary during reading time. It has a lot of easy to follow signs for everyday words.