Darth Vader Goes to Walmart: Pandemic Musings

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“Children, ages 2 and older, will be required to wear a mask at school.”

“Parents, whether your student wears a mask or not is up to you.”

“We are not going to require masks.”

“We will only require our teachers to wear masks.”

I was talking to a high school student the other day, she told me:

It is one thing to wear a mask, into a store, for a short amount of time; It is another thing to wear a mask at school all day.

I get it. I never knew that I had issues with claustrophobia. Not being a doctor or someone required to wear a mask for work, I never really thought too much about how wearing a mask would make me feel. That is, until I was required to wear a mask to shop in a store.

I try to play off the mask wearing by making Darth Vader breathing sounds as I wear one. While at the same time, I also try not to think about how we all look like a bunch of poor doctors and bank robbers.

Speaking of bank robbers, I saw a Brink’s armored truck parked the other day. The two armed security guards were wearing bandannas. They looked like armed robbers, as they casually walked back to their truck with cash. This pandemic plays mind games with ya when the good guys look like the bad guys.

For parents having to make the choice as to school their children online or in person at school, you have my sympathy. I can’t imagine having to work around enforcing that my child stays in front of the computer/in their seat, at home, for as long as they would if they were at school; I also can’t imagine sending my child to school and forcing them to wear a mask all day and social distance. Your children’s teachers are not paid enough. But you know that.

I was recently telling Tabitha that our lives, as parents who have chosen to homeschool, do not revolve around a school. No, our son’s education/schooling revolves around us and neatly fits into our day.

  • We decide when school begins and ends.
  • We decide which curriculum to teach from.
  • We decide whether there will be masks or not.

I am thankful that we made the choice to homeschool. I am thankful for my gifted wife who has made the decision to stay at home and teach our son. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone though. Not every kid is built for homeschooling. But for our family, homeschooling works for us.

No masks will be required, in our home, this Fall. We will strive to preserve as much normalcy as we can in our school routine. Wearing a mask, around the house, seems silly. I shouldn’t say that aloud though as home mask wearing could soon be a thing. Stupid 2020.

However, I WILL BE WEARING A MASK if going to the local Walmarts… I mean, if Darth Vader goes to the Walmarts.

>Insert Mechanical Breathing Sound of Doom<

So what if your kids have to sit with you in church?

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Growing up, Sunday mornings could often become tense. While getting ready for church, words would be said and feelings hurt as all six of us hurried to get out the door.

Even with a family of three, there can occasionally be a morning where we pull up into the church parking lot and say, “Everyone smile.”

Tab and I serve in our church’s kids ministry by helping check kids in, Sunday mornings. As parents walk up to the check in desk, they will often look relieved to be dropping off their children. Maybe their morning had been harried/tense while trying to get to church? I am never sure. But I get it. I try and reassure those parents with a sincere smile and a quick, “Hey, ya’ll made it today.” Sometimes merely getting to the destination is the biggest family battle of all.

Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

In the wake of the pandemic, my church has started meeting once again. This week will be week five of meeting physically, together. We’ve been meeting with some rules/modifications in place:

  • Not shaking hands, although elbows are encouraged
  • A row of spacing, behind and in front of, each occupied row
  • No passing of the offering plate.
  • Masks and gloves offered to those in attendance (not mandatory)
  • And this week, we are beginning to offer an earlier service for those ages 60+/vulnerable

Our small groups have yet to restart and have been meeting online.

One of the bigger changes now is that our children are sitting with us in the service.

Sunday morning, during the worship service, I got looking around. Trying to see if any of my little friends were in attendance; kids I used to check in each week. A few of the kids were there, sitting alongside their parents or even grandparents. For the most part though, the kids from our kids ministry have vanished.

  • I understand the need to practice social distancing.
  • I understand a parents desire to want to keep their children healthy.
  • I understand wanting to protect the vulnerable.

At some point though, I wonder if there is another reason I’m not seeing my little friends anymore. I wonder if their parents do not want to sit with them in the service.

Serving in the kid’s ministry, I have seen how amazing our children’s minister is. I have sat through her teaching time; I have seen the way she handles the kids and the expectations she holds them to. Yes, your child can sit through the service without getting up to pee.

Get’s me thinking about the way we can pass our children along to others, expecting them to teach/raise them. I see this pandemic time as the perfect time to model through action how to sit in big church. Pulling out, if needed, items to help your child:

  • Coloring books
  • Dot-to-dot books
  • Blank pages to draw on
  • And, depending on age, maybe even–gasp!–an iPad (with headphones)

I’m not sure about your church, but our children’s minister offers a kids sheet for sermon notes. Our pastor, each week, provides notes for his sermon. This is a great way to encourage our kids to engage in the service. I’m not interested so much in behavior as I am in teaching our children how to worship God.

I get tired of parents treating their children like they are the plague. Yes, I am a parent of one (and God-willing, more one day) but that doesn’t lessen my experience… nor my overall encouragement to bring your kids to church right now. This is the perfect time to grow spiritually as a family.

In closing, I say this with love: Some of us need to stop hiding behind this virus and using it as an excuse to forgo meeting with fellow believers. So what if your kids have to sit with you in church?

I love ya’ll. Until next time.

Adoption Update – I feel so frustrated

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Leaving church Sunday, someone walked up to Tab and I and asked how the adoption process is going. I replied, “I feel so frustrated.”

Photo by Park Troopers on Unsplash

A few weeks ago, we were sent an email from our adoption caseworker. The email contained a picture and a brief description of a little boy who is/was up for adoption. We were told that our home study had been submitted and to email our caseworker back if we were not interested. We didn’t email back. 🙂

Weeks went by, the deadline for caseworkers submitting interest in this little boy came and went. I followed up with our caseworker to see if she had heard anything, nope. Silence.

Another week went by, we received an email from our caseworker saying that we had not made the initial selection process. I felt gutted. So many questions filled my mind:

  • Were we not picked because of hold old Tab and I are?
  • Were we not picked because of the age different between Wyatt and this little boy?
  • Why?!?

I knew I couldn’t dwell in the land of why too long… so instead I kind of shut down.

It’s been about a week since we found out that we weren’t selected. This morning, I feel like I am waking up from a haze. With my mental fog clearing, I can tell that I’ve been distant with those I love, mourning someone I will never know.

There is something about a picture and a description that opens your mind to possibilities and dreams. Excitement about what could be is good; checking out when things don’t go as planned, not so good. I am learning through this adoption process. Learning about:

Trusting God when things don’t make sense / have gone off the rails

Strengthening my own personal mental armor / being stretched

Yes, I am still frustrated about the adoption process. But I realize that the word “process” is key. The process, the journey if you will, is helping prepare Tabitha, Wyatt, and I for the day we change from a family of three to a family of four. While my pessimism towards the process tells me that that day could be awhile off, I have to admit that I have no clue / it’s all out of my hands. Next week could bring a new email, a new child to dream about and consider.

Daily, I have to give this process to God. Let go. Let Him do His thing.

Until next time,

Bryan

 

 

Making Room

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We often treat our children as if they are invaders in our home. Pillagers of our everyday items (free kitchen cabinet content removal) and destroyers of all that is good (throwing ALL media off shelves onto the floor). I don’t think much about it now, but Tabitha and I fought against the invader mentality. Instead, we invited our son into our spaces.

The Cabinet Battle

When Wyatt was little, he liked opening the kitchen cabinets and throwing the cabinet contents out onto the floor. Typical little kid stuff. Tupperware, pots and pans, you name it, all over the floor to trip on. Our Solution: Tabitha gave Wyatt his own kitchen cabinet. A place where we could intentionally put just a few things for him to pull out. This created a boundary we could enforce, as all the other kitchen cabinets were off limits. A small mental shift that made our lives much easier in those early years.

Bottom Line: Invite your children into the kitchen, let them play in their cabinet while you cook.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Welcome to the Living Room

Most kids have all of their toys in their bedrooms. As Wyatt grew older, we set up all of his toys in a corner of our living room. At this stage, he liked to be near us while he played. With his toys in the living room, he would:
  • Walk over and play with us for a moment. I could easily eat some plastic cheese and then he would move on.
  • Grab us to come play cars on his large car mat.
This set up allowed his bedroom to solely become his sleep room. With his toys in the living room, we could watch, play, and still go about our business. A win for him and us!
Bottom Line: This one might drive some of you nuts… having your children’s stuff out in the open. Trust me though, with the toys out you play more. Who cares if you have guests over and they realize that you have children (This one was hard on me. Thankful for my sweet wife for helping me through this.).
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

They Grow Up

Over the weekend, we created a new space for Wyatt. A place where he can hang out when friends come over. Tab and I took half of our mud room and :
  • Put some carpet square samples from work down to define his space. We’ve found that the carpet squares work great as area rugs with a little Gorilla Tape holding them together.
  • Bought some bean bag chairs.
  • And put a TV/DVD player for gaming and movies. (I will note that nothing is connected to the internet in his space. All about smart parenting, people.)

Make Room

I watch other parents fight the kitchen cabinet battles; I watch some of them act as if they can erase any trace of having children in their home (I hate homes that feel like museums… another blog post though.). I can tell you that there is an easier way to fight the “invader”, include them in your spaces. Make room for your children.