Tag Archives: Kaelyn

Negotiating Bed Time

Over the last couple of months, I have been taking a doctoral course on negotiation and conflict. On my daughter’s 7 year birthday I got a chance to test my new skills.

I was at her school and we were having lunch together on her birthday and I asked her, “What are you looking forward to about being 7?”   She answered, “Staying up late with the big kids (her older siblings).” She gets way tired and I knew this was a bit unrealistic.

I decided to test my new learnings out and try some “integrative bargaining.” I asked her, “What time do you think you should go to bed?” (Her bedtime was 6:30 pm).  She answered, “7 o’clock!” This was her opening position. But then she added, “But Mom won’t let me, but I’m 7 and it makes sense that I should to bed at 7!”  I liked the argument from even numbers.

I asked her then what was important to her about staying up until 7 pm (finding out what her interests are). She shared, “Having fun, playing with the Kids, playing with Oreo (the dog), and not missing out.” Using Daniel Shapiro’s core need categories from Beyond Reason, she expressed a desire for affiliation (with her siblings) and status (staying up later so she is no longer going to bed like a “6-year-old.”

I asked her to think about why her Mom might not want her to go to bed at 7 pm. As we talked, the thing that came up was that she sometimes is grumpy when she goes to school after not getting enough sleep (Her mom’s interests). I asked her if that was true and she admitted it was. I asked her, “Do you like being grumpy and tired at school?”  She answered, “No.”

I then attempted a “joint problem statement” along the lines of “What would a good bedtime be that allows you to stay up later like a 7-year-old and that also would allow you to get enough sleep so that you can have a good day at school given that you have to wake up at 5:15 am?”

She thought for a second and then answered, “I think maybe I should go to bed 10 minutes later.”  I asked her if she thought her mom would be ok with that. She said she wasn’t sure, but asked, “Will you talk to her?” I asked if she was ok with having her bedtime be at 6:40 pm and she gave an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

When we were home later she looked at me and gave me the wink wink nod nod to go talk to her mother to see if this was an agreeable plan. We discussed it together and came to a quick agreement that as a 7-year-old, KK would now go to bed at 6:40 pm instead of 6:30 pm.

KK drives a hard bargain 🙂

Sounds like a lot of work for 10 minutes, but it actually was pretty fun because you could see her enjoying the conversation, being taken seriously, and being a part of shaping the solution.

Negotiation is pretty fascinating – there’s a lot of principles relevant to high-level business or conflict that are just as applicable to something as benign as figuring out a 7 year old’s bed time 🙂

Pre-School Theology: Game 7 Prayers

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

My daughter, who is in kindergarten now, believes she helped the Cubs win Game 7 of this year’s world series and thus, their first world series since 1908.

While stuck in typical Manila traffic last week on the way home from the kid’s school, she started this conversation.

“Dad. After that other team tied the game, I prayed that the Cubs would win. And then God answered my prayer and the Cubs won.”

My favorite part of this was that we really had had no Cubs related conversation or interaction in the previous week. It was something she wanted me to know.

I would love to know what her motivation was for praying for the Cubs and for letting me know God answered her prayer. Did she do it because she saw her father in an unusually vulnerable and rabid moment and it worried her?  Was it because she knew it was a big deal and important to at least her father and brother?  Something in her wanted a happy ending for the people she cares about so she prayed.

I loved the moment and it was fun to connect over the Cubs. But a great reminder that we need to ground our prayer life on solid theological footing.

Putting aside the fact that God is in fact a Cubs fan 😛 , I decided not to bring up the high likelihood that she had a 6-year-old counterpart in Cleveland praying the exact same thing for the Cleveland Indians.  What about her?

During the World Series I heard a record amount of animistic language from people on all sorts of teams praying to ancestors, former players, God, and who knows what else – attributing everything from good luck to timeline rainfall to the goodwill of long lost relatives and God’s partiality.   I was shocked at how much animism was alive and well in the western sporting domain!

But for now – I’m glad my daughter feels like she had a part in a great moment for me and our family.  In time, we’ll have to break the news that God probably doesn’t care much about our sports teams.

Though if God did care about sports teams, I’m still pretty sure He would care most about the Cubs.   😛

 

Pre-School Theology: I’m Here!

This entry is part 12 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

We’re in our last months of having a pre-schooler so the nostalgia is setting in.  But we continue to have moments that remind us that the eyes of a pre-schooler always provide a fascinating as well as entertaining perspective on life and even life with God.

Last week I attended a theological forum here in Manila on Peace and Reconciliation and was gone for a couple of days.  Even though it was held in the city, it was essentially like an out of town trip.  When I got back I took the family out for ice cream to re-connect after being gone and celebrate the end of the week given that it was a Friday.

IMG_4260It was a high energy meeting where kids were talking fast and relaying all their experiences from the previous few days and catching up on things.  The older kids that is.  After several minutes of chatter and fast talking by our oldest children, our five year old Kaelyn at the first real moment of silence in the conversation burst out with a simple declaration, “I’m here!”

It was an abrupt transition, but she had tons she wanted to connect about and she was feeling overlooked and somewhat overpowered by her siblings.  All that she was feeling in that moment just exploded awkwardly through that simple phrase, “I’m here!”

It was such an abrupt statement in the conversation that you can’t help but shift the focus of the conversation and explore what was going on for her. Sure enough, she had been wanting to share some specific things with me that she had been holding onto for a couple days and she wasn’t going to feel close or connected until I knew about the important things in her life.

It was a reminder that being seen, being able to have a voice, being able to have meaningful connection in areas that we want to be known is fundamental to living lives of purpose in community.  We all have moments in life, relationships, and work where we want to scream out, “I’m here!”  It’s a gift when others respond to our own different expressions of “I’m here!” with a gracious and listening disposition.  It also reminds me that it’s just as significant of a gift to others when we validate their “I’m here!” with a response of “Yes, you’re here!  And I’m glad you are! Tell me more!”

Lencioni refers to anonymity as one of the signs of a miserable job and all the pyschology literature shows us the many ways relational isolation wrecks havoc on well-being and communities.  But it’s in those moments of expressing, seeing, or responding to the “I’m here’s!” is where authentic and connected community is built.

There is a warning that we often find artificial ways to declare “I’m here!” in an effort to earn that validation, yet no achievement can provide the transformational power and depth of freely given acceptance and grace through relationship.

This is the power of the gospel for people in their journeys with God and with one another.  Connecting in the “I’m here!” moments are  the simple moments that build us up, transform us, and deepen our capacity to serve others.

Look for the “I’m here’s” this week and see how you can give the gift of, “Yes! You’re There! Tell Me More!”

 

1 Day 3 Kids 3 Ways of Affection

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Our family is in a bit of transition, and we have been it seems for about 2 1/2 years now!  But recently we made a move to a different part of the city so our kids could make the move to a new school as part of our continued journey here in Manila.  This past week was a rude awakening as we were all up about 5am every day and because of traffic here there were days I didn’t even get to see my kids at night.

That’s what made Friday night such a relief – to make it through our first big week with our new schedule and everyone having their own world’s after a couple years of being together a lot.  But we missed each other and I couldn’t wait to be with my kids this weekend.  And I was encouraged that the three of them missed me too and the ways they expressed it enhanced my appreciation for their uniqueness.  So let me share the 3 different and unique ways my kids expressed affection for me that reflects their own unique personalities.

First, my oldest daughter Morgan (10) wanted to share everything she did at school. She wanted me to know what she did and what she has to do. She wanted me to know the types of things she enjoyed doing and the things she didn’t enjoy doing. (Probable ISTJ on the MBTI!) She connects a lot through talking and interacting about what she does, though I’m glad I got a “Dad, I really missed you this week” from her too!

Next up is our middle child, our 7 year old son Colin. He is a probable ENFP on the MBTI if that means anything to you, but if not – here’s how he expressed himself to me while we were hanging out on the couch Friday night. He said, “Dad, if I were a squirrel I would just crawl up right on your shoulder and get super cozy and let my big fluffy tail hang down your arm and I would be so warm and comfy.”  He communicates a little different than our oldest daughter 🙂

And finally our 4 year old Kaelyn who just started pre-school. She doesn’t quite have the same vocabulary, but I got a deep and hearty “Daddy, I love you.” I say deep and hearty because she has a deep and hearty voice!  But she also offered, “Daddy, will you sit next to me at dinner?” I don’t quite  have a beat on my youngest’s personality type, but I know that getting invited to sit next to her at dinner is a big deal so I was excited to sit in the place of honor!

I love my kids. I am grateful that they love me and I love the unique ways they show it. It reminded me that we all show care and affection in different ways and it’s important to recognize what is meaningful to others even when on the surface it doesn’t connect right away with our preferences.

 

Pre-School Theology: The Hand of Blessing

This entry is part 11 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

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A while back we were coming out of church and our four year old daughter started an interesting conversation about her Sunday School experience this way,

“One of the teachers was leaving or something and we all prayed for her and they made us hold our hand up pointed towards her for a really long time and it hurt my arm because it was so long!”

But it turns out all our kids were together during this experience and they had a lot to say about it.  My son (7) added as only a true Star Wars fan could,

“It’s true. It was really long.  Why do they have us hold up our arms?  It looked like everyone was trying to use the force on her.”

Our oldest agreed with that assessment wholeheartedly and added that it also looked like the pose that the Iron Man statues from the Avengers are in at the mall (see above).

This was an entertaining conversation about “the hand of blessing.”  The Scriptures contain the idea of the laying on of hands as a means of blessing.  But logistics sometimes prevent that and instead of getting up close and personal, we just raise a stretched out hand in that direction of the blessing.  It’s a practical, yet engaged means of having the whole community participate in the conveying of a certain blessing upon someone or a group of people.

I don’t mind it. But funny how my kids interpret what’s going on when they aren’t used to seeing those types of things.

They have adopted it now though.  When I’m icing my knees after basketball, it’s not uncommon for my son to randomly extend his hand towards me while trying to keep a straight face.  I asked him the first time what he was doing.  He said, “I’m doing that hand prayer thing!”  And there’s been a couple moments at dinner where I humorously get the “hand of blessing” from all 3 of my kids if it’s clear I’m really stressed.  I’m glad my kids have a sense of humor 🙂

And now I can’t look at Iron Man the same anymore either.

 

Pre-School Theology: Snow White Jesus

This entry is part 10 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

I’m taking a break from posting my Multi Ethnic Ministry Learnings to post a few things of a different variety that I don’t want to sit on any longer.

I started a series several years ago called “Pre-School Theology” that was derived mostly from experiences with our son. He’s not in pre-school anymore, but now our youngest has entered that range and is providing some great moments for us as far as her growing theology goes.

So you know how for many that grow up in the church and Sunday School it isn’t that hard for them to develop a Christology that essentially equates to a male version of snow white.  Jesus is a gentle figure who lives at peace with nature and converses with animals, possibly even understanding somehow their animal dialects.  The picture of bluebirds gently resting on an outstretched finger conveys somehow the inner beauty and His identity as Creator of the universe. You know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t, this beauty of a painting is out there and you should get what I’m referring to here.

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But apparently my 4 year old daughter did not get the Snow White Jesus treatment and somehow picked up something entirely different in her church experience.   One night about when she turned 4 years old, when talking about animals and where they came from, we had this conversation:

K:  “Dad! Don’t you know that Jesus hates all the animals and eats them all up!”

Me:  “What?! Where did you learn that? Why do you think Jesus hates animals?”

K:  “My teacher said so. Jesus wants to eat all the animals.”

Me:  “Wow. But the Bible says that the world and the animals in it were created by Jesus.”

K:  “Yes, so he could eat them.”

And the debate continued for a while because she’s a strong and passionate gal.

So we have Snow White Jesus and Carnivore Jesus.

I’m sure volunteers who teach pre-school or other grades at Sunday School have some measure of paranoia about what these little ones say after hearing various lessons and stories.  Maybe a reminder to pray for those pre-school teachers out there who have the challenging task to help little ones understand basic ideas 🙂

Baby Jesus Valentine

This entry is part 9 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

Valentine’s Day apparently is a big deal here in the Philippines – in general it seems to be even bigger than the actual holidays of Easter and Christmas.  So as a family we had some fun celebrating and talking about the origins of Valentine’s Day and what it means and all that.

During our conversation, the kids steered the conversation somehow to kissing – that kissing is what married people and couples do on Valentine’s Day.

Kaelyn, our recently turned four year old surprised me with a strong stance on the issue.  She declared very passionately,

“The only person I am ever going to kiss in my life is baby Jesus!”

Sounds good to me!

 

 

Pre-School Theology: Grief

This entry is part 8 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

A couple of years ago I wrote a post entitled “The Gift Our Fish Gave Us” as a reflection on how navigating the death of their fish after two years was developmental and formational for our kids.  Well, we got another fish….and it died this week.  It too gave us the gift of grieving.  But it was quite the day with my 5 year old son Colin – the subject of many of these “pre-school theology” posts.

It all started with a little fumigation.  Daddy thought he had safely contained the fish to avoid the gas chamber experience.  But Daddy was wrong.  Dorothy the fish was belly up and good ole Dad was public enemy #1 for awhile.

It was amazing that during the course of a whole day I watched my son go through like all 5 stages of the grief process.

First – he was angry with me.  He blamed me. Direct quote, “You did it on purpose!” He attributed evil intentions to the mistake that caused him to experience loss.  He even came close to trying to hit me, but he held back at the last minute. But the pain of his loss was funneled toward anger and blaming.

Second – I took him on some errands to reconnect and work through the tension.  At one point he began to try to convince me that Dorothy really was in fact not dead, but sleeping. She was just really tired from holding her breath during all the gas.  He had a strong rationalization for how his loss was all a mistake. Denial at work.

Third – After realizing that the fish was dead and his rationalization broke down and wasn’t doing the job, he looked for other ways to deal with his loss.  He came up to me and said, “Dad, I have an idea! We can pretend to be happy!”  I see this as a combo of rationalization, denial, and bargaining.  I couldn’t believe he said it.  “We don’t have to feel sad if we just pretend we’re happy!”  (Lot of people living their lives with this philosophy! Amazing how early that thought can set in)

My son’s creative solution “to pretend” is a diabolical lie and there’s not much greater of a disservice I can do as a parent than reinforce such a lie that “pretending” is a valid life approach to facing loss and pain.  It’s our job as parents to help our kids embrace a vision of life that is so much bigger and so much deeper and powerful than….pretending. But it’s so tempting to pretend!

Fourth – We had our funeral as a family.  Everyone had done artwork as in the case of Fish #1.  Everyone shared what they drew (Including 2 year old Kaelyn who was experiencing grieving for the first time in this way).  Then they shared what they appreciated about the fish. It is so amazing to hear what little kids share about what was meaningful to them – even as it relates to a fish.   But the funeral had much sadness, much crying, even some wailing.  We prayed and then flushed Dorothy to Great Beyond.  My favorite memory was Kaelyn blowing kisses into the fishbowl as Dorothy was circling, saying, “Bye Bye Dorothy!”

Fifth – We did reach a point of acceptance.  Dad got forgiven. Order was restored. Yet sadness still lingered as kids shared throughout the week random feelings of sadness.  Even Kaelyn would randomly just walk around saying every once in a while, “Sad…Dorothy…Jesus.”

These moments are always wild, but so thankful for the fruit produced when we go through it together and don’t settle for the alternatives to grieving: denial, pretending, blaming.

This weekend we had some of our kids cousins’ in from out of town and they all had a great weekend together.  They left for the airport this afternoon and said goodbye. Afterward Kaelyn was eating dinner and she shared on her own, “Mama I sad.”  We both shared back, “Us too Kaelyn, we’re sad too.”   Later after we began packing up pictures and wall decorations for our move she also said, “Mama I sad. Pictures Gone.”

I love that my two year old sees sadness as normal, as something that can be articulated and shared. My kids still fight loss just like the rest of us, but we’re glad they are learning to talk about it!

There’s no shortage of human dysfunction that flows from the unwillingness or inability to grieve loss and pain and limitation.  I speak from experience. I fight it in all the ways my son tried to fight feeling the loss of his fish. I look for ways around it.

We’re all in process.  But I find myself resonating and even using the very words of my toddler in moments where I’m feeling very non-toddler types of loss…..”I sad.”

It’s amazing how simple a phrase can trigger such a sense of freedom, honesty, and intimacy in relationship.  Reminds me of a similar phrase in Scripture, “Jesus wept.” Such simple language that penetrates all of the complexities surrounding those moments when we’re most aware that we’re fallen people living in a fallen world.