Category Archives: Gideon James

postcard from Texas • Tuesday

This kid and this tractor (a John Deere 110, for those of you who need to know)… this kid and this tractor are inseparable.

He drives it- alone- all day, every day. He hooks up the wagon, hauls hay, unhooks the wagon, starts it up, circles the house, shuts it off, starts it up again… this boy is on fire.


Please, to remember.

gus man

You shuffled up to me with your head hanging down.

It was only yesterday, but I will remember it forever. You don’t shuffle. Usually, you fly. Or bounce. Or slide or crawl or leap. This time, you shuffled up to me… almost quietly. I was sitting on the floor, reading. Abby was napping and you were playing cars. I only wish I could spell this conversation out phonetically so others could “hear” you. Your language and voice have a raspy magic that transform ordinary moments into memories.

Mom, you said with a bit of sad in your voice, Me growing down.

You’re growing DOWN, Bud? Whaddya mean?

Me growing down.

[I set my book down.]

Say it again, Bud. I don’t understand.

Me growing DOWN, Mom. ME NOT GETTING BIG.

Oh, but you are, Gus Man! You ARE getting big! I can tell by your shoes and your chair at the table and your seat in the car. You ARE getting big! It’s slow, but you’re changing… you’re growing UP every day.

[You panicked.]

ME NOT WANT GET BIG! Me want to grow down!

[And you leaned into me, wrapped your arms around my neck, and buried your head in my shoulder.]

Oooooh. I see. I see. You know, growing UP is not really something we can change OR stop. Mom’s still growing up, too. It’s just how God made us. We grow up not down. We get bigger, stronger, taller. We learn more and play more and visit fun places. Do you like being little? Don’tcha WANNA get big?

No.

Why, Bud?

Me want to stay here with mom. Me growing down.

[Here is where my heart nearly broke in half… honey, you were so serious.]

Oh, Buddy. You will always be my best guy. Even if you grow up, even if you go to school, even if you get in trouble, even if you get mad at me, even if you move away… you will always be my best guy. So don’t be afraid to grow up. Think of all the things you’ll be able to do when you get BIG! What do you want to do when you get BIG?

[And you waited. You were not completely sold. But you were thinking.]

[And you leaned back without letting go and looked me in the eyes. Slowly, a grin spread across your face.]

Me get big, ME DRIVE!

[Heaven help us all.]

 

 


My children do not listen.

Put your seatbelt on, grab your shoes, you’ll lose that trinket if you yell out again. Brush your teeth, stop itching, you cannot draw on the furniture- again.

My children do not listen.

It is warm out side, wear shorts. It is cold outside, grab  your coat. You are going too fast, you are going to slow, you’re going to get hurt. Where is your helmet?

My children do not listen.

Dinner is in an hour, your dad is at work, your cousins are camping. We’ve gone over this a thousand times- today.

My children do not listen.

It has become my silent mantra: my children do not listen. When I’m making dinner, when I’m re-finding shoes, when I’m driving and solving the world’s problems: MY CHILDREN DO NOT LISTEN. A marching beat. A rhythm. An excuse and explanation.

I’m not saying it’s beautiful. I’m just… saying.

They could not hear me saying it, but no doubt they could feel it. Kids feel exasperation. It is perhaps the emotion they are most in-tune with, amen? Somewhere deep inside I thought, “I am bigger than this. I can change this.” My thoughts and self-talk and episodes have always run on their own power… but what if, for once, I could turn it around? What if I could actually change my mind? And so the next time those words ran across my inner screen, I molded them into a different story.

My children, do not listen. 

Do not listen to those who will tell you’re too little, too small, too young. You are exactly the right size, age, and character to do AMAZING THINGS.

My children, do not listen.

Do not listen to the silence of fear begging you to stay behind. Seek out the lonely, wear the striped stockings, hug your family. Grow. Laugh loudly. Cry earnestly. Love fiercely. It is not safe, but that is not reason to stand still. Wear a helmet.

My children, do not listen.

Ignore the hesitation that comes with change. Push onward, push out. The view up ahead is fantastic, and it will not come to you. You have to run, skip, and jump to it!

My children, do not listen.

Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you? That is a lie. Bones heal. Words seep into the cracks and grow into insecurity, chronic bruises. Words stick. So, you choose your words carefully. You make them beautiful and big and heart-felt. Strong and true and soft. You will never regret being kind, and you will never hurt irreparably by speaking love.

My children, do not listen.

The world will shower you with comparison and doubt. But you ARE enough. You are exactly enough.

I can do this.

I can change the words.


Wednesday’s vacation postcard

The Mulders are making their way through Maine with a mini-van, a trailer, and a tent. Let us pray for the Northeast, amen? There’ll be a postcard here each day this week.

Wednesday

My children.

Not a sane one in the bunch.

kids collage


Tuesday’s vacation postcard

The Mulders are making their way through Maine with a mini-van, a trailer, and a tent. Let us pray for the Northeast, amen? There’ll be a postcard here each day this week.

Tuesday

When you are dancing or just living life in general, please have this much gravel in your shoes.

shoes

(found in Gideon’s shoes while at the concert pictured yesterday)


Monday’s vacation postcard

The Mulders are making their way through Maine with a mini-van, a trailer, and a tent. Let us pray for the Northeast, amen? There’ll be a postcard here each day this week 🙂

Monday

Gus Man would like to challenge you to a dance off.

You must be able to dance like this for at least 2 hours and please run into as many people sitting next to you as possible. We believe in tackle-dancing.

(taken at a Mines show at Meijer Gardens)


camping

We leave tomorrow morning for our annual trip to Platte River in the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

My parents are picking up Gus and Ry halfway through the trip and whisking them off to the magical world of Pennsylvania. There are exactly two-hundred-forty-seven things I need to do before our van hits the highway. What does one do when there are 5 people and a kitchen to pack up not to mention bills to pay, emails to send, and a wayward chicken to corral and return to the coop before the house-sitter arrives?

One writes.

I found this post again last night and laughed so hard. Laughing alone at something you wrote is awkward but worth it. I hadn’t thought about that particular trip in a long time and reading about it again made me excited to get on the road. Then I laughed even harder when I couldn’t find last year’s letter to my parents and had to search ‘apache in august’ to get to it. I don’t care who you are, that’s funny. I read the letter to see how things have changed over the past year and I laughed some more.  Oh, my children. So cute. So incredibly high-maintenance.

It was a good night.

gus and ry

Mom and Dad,

I’m sure we won’t have much time when you arrive at the campground to debrief/prep for your trip with Rylie and Gideon. The kids will tackle you and Rylie will launch into the story about the birds (ask me later) and we’ll never be able to get a word in again until someone hurts themselves and or requires discipline… neither of which are great times to talk about  specifics of our child-rearing and safety philosophies. Let me just mention a few things that may save a life:

1. Ry naps. Gus can take it or leave it. I’m so, so sorry. My best advice to you both is take turns. Divide and conquer. Never let them see you cry.

2. I’m keeping Abby with me. This act alone should absolve me from any debt or disturbance I ever caused or will cause you in the future. You’re welcome.

3. Ry’s hair is now short and curly and so is Gus Man’s. The 4-year age difference makes it pretty easy to tell them apart, but just in case: Gus wears a hat 24-7 and Ry still has terrible breath. Also, Gus is usually missing or at the top of something very high.

4. Both Gideon and Ry are potty-trained… all day, all night, all the time. Please remind and encourage both of them to wear undies. At all times. At all times they should be wearing undies and at all times you should be reminding them of this.

5. Beware the phrase ‘Me Got It.’ This translates to ‘I got it.’ or ‘I can do that myself.’ and comes out of Gus’ mouth approximately 18 times per minute. When you hear it, drop what you are doing- immediately– and find him. I said immediately. Do not delay or attempt to talk him down. Get up and find him. It is never a test and it never ends well.

6. Both children will ask for ‘2 minutes’ at bedtime. As in, 2 more minutes, please? Except, 2 minutes is a completely fake number to them. Neither can tell time or count well. It’s a sham, a distraction, a way to break you down. Stand firm.

7. Prayers are said or echoed at bedtime. Meal-time grace prayers are generally discouraged at bedtime, but sometimes make their way in there anyway. It’s ok. Work with what you have.

8. Ry still hates jelly. Gus Man still loves peanut butter. Bagels are called ‘O’s’ and are acceptable at any meal.

9. Ry is now missing 1 more bottom tooth and 2 more top teeth. Still best not to bring up the whole tooth fairy sneaking in to your room at night and stealing things from you, though she digs the money-exchange idea. We’re getting there.

10. I will not be mad NOR ask any questions if you tell me you had to throw some of their clothes away. I will only nod knowingly.

I’ll meet you in Ohio in two weeks. I don’t think my phone rings here in the woods, so if you get stuck or need a translation… in the words of my father,

Good luck with that.

Also, thank you. We love you. We trust you. Have a fabulous time.

Always,

your favorite first-born,

Mary Kathryn


I’m not kidding.

In the year of our Lord, 2013, on the 10th day of the 6th month,

(Monday, People. This past Monday.)

I loaded my children in the van and headed West.

After 35 minutes of bliss tempered by Babe on the DVD, we stopped at Meijer to buy a gift. Our friends, you see, had just returned from a land far, far away with a new babe and were in need of a highchair. I offered our own, but an evening of Abby throwing spaghetti quickly solidified her need of meal-time restraint for a few months more.

A NEW high chair, we all squealed! It will be a surprise!

Now, you are aware that Meijer is frequently the setting for Mulder miracles-

there was the incident with the fish,

and then the lady in the parking lot,

and who can forget Pam?

This morning would prove no different.

Abby

There were 2 choices: a minor choice and a major choice… and I left it up to the eldest. “Which do you pick, Rylie? Which one should we bring?”

She, of course, picked the major choice… because she is of my genes.

At the checkout, the kind teller rang up our purchases: the highchair, 2 bags of m&ms, a box of baby wipes (ABBY JUNE) and some emergency bananas. He sang out my total.

I tilted my head.

“Erm… did you beep the highchair in the cart here? I didn’t put it on the conveyor belt.”

“I did.”

*blank stare*

“Well, can I just see the receipt to make sure?”

He smiled and turned his monitor to face me. “See? Right here. Looks like it’s on sale. For basically nothing.”

“Yes and thank you. We’ll be seeing you in heaven.”

And off we went, with our beautiful brand-new gift for a beautiful, new-to-them baby starting a beautiful, brand-new life with a beautiful, lovely family.

Meijer, sometimes you are magic.

Gus Man

We passed on the gift (and m&ms) with much, MUCH glee and were quickly on our way back to the farm. As a reward for 2 hours of driving plus a trip to the grocery store, I pulled into McDonalds to let my herd frolic on the play land. It was a remarkable day, after all, and the kids were doing so very well.

Until they weren’t.

Until Gideon ripped off his socks and stuffed them down the webbing holes of the tunnel, never to be seen again.

Until Abby grabbed my Coke and poured it on herself.

Until Rylie decided she would take another girl’s shoes home.

Until Gideon told her she couldn’t.

Until Rylie smacked him with the force of an undiscovered fly-weight.

Until Gideon bit her on the arm and bolted through the emergency door in the play land, initiating a piercing BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! and lockdown sequence for all the lucky customers.

People, I did not even flinch. I grabbed all three shoeless children by their collars and marched them out to the van, alarms still flaring in the background.

Ry and Coco

I locked Abby in her seat. I nudged Gideon to GET MOVING, and his little legs began to climb in the van.

Which exposed his superhero undies waistband at eye-level with Rylie.

Who instinctively and with the vengeance of a girl scorned, bit him squarely on the butt.

THE BUTT.

Oh, we are not finished.

Before I could summon Jesus to return, my eldest pulled away from her brother’s buns in fear… because her mouth was pouring blood.

What is this madness, you ask?

Quite simple, Friends.

SHE LOST HER TOOTH.

Her wiggly tooth that had been tormenting her for days… the tooth came out as she bit her brother. And so, she wailed.

We cannot go back inside to use the restroom because, well, see above. We can only go home. We can only go home- a mother, stoic, with her 3 whimpering children in the backseats.

We can only go home and THINK ABOUT WHAT WE’VE DONE for a good, long time.

*sigh*

Let us mark that establishment as yet another parking lot we shall never grace again.

Happy weekend to you, Dears.

May your socks be dry and your drinks strong.


to you

Gideon age 3

I counted yesterday. I think there have been 9 months of your life when you have NOT worn a baseball cap. You wear it when you sleep, Son. When I see you in my head (and in my heart), your face is shaded by a brim and your too-long hair is sticking out the back. And you’re throwing something.

Lately, I find myself split right down the middle with you. Half of me begs time to speed up. Please, I pray. Please let it be 5 years later. Send this child to school. Save my walls from the screwdrivers, the pens, the sticks, the flying Playmobil helicopters. Give him other friends to play with who will hit him back and chase him down and tie him up. I cannot see over the weeds and I am afraid I will be lost forever in here. Send help now.

The other half of me begs time to stand still. Please, I pray. Please let me sit here a little longer with my boy, who silently snuggles up closer on the couch and interlaces his chubby fingers with mine. Please let me hear, “Me wuf Mom” and be asked to jump on the trampoline forever and ever. Let me always hear this child pray at dinner and breakdance to Mumford and Sons. Let me walk into my bedroom and find you standing at my bed driving your matchbox cars over my pillows and under my covers.

The tension here is harder than I thought. You bring out 2 extremes in me… full-blown rage and absolute, total, smitten-ness.

You drop nails all over the driveway.

You stand on Abby for no good reason at all.

You are violent when you are hungry.

You are the loudest thing I’ve ever encountered.

But you are also the best air-kisser, the best trampoline-er, the best wordsmith in this house. No doubt. Truly, deep-down, a sweetheart with epic potential as a hurdler.You have the greatest giggle when caught or tickled, and you know how to work a power drill.

I just love you, that’s all. You make me crazy, but I love you.

And you’re getting tall.

And I love you.

I wuf you.


bedtime prayers

In the interest of full-disclosure, I need to tell you that the video of the speech I gave for Rylie’s school in April is out there. Every hermit bone in my body is shaking. I am a dish best served on paper. Oh man. But, it’s an honest speech, and it was a good night, AND I do believe the people we have worked with deserve the credit I give them in the message. There you have it.

If you’ve ever wondered what I look like, move like, sound like… here you go. Please note: my hair does not always look that good. I do, in fact, close my eyes a lot when I speak. I know. I’m working on it.

gus man

Have you met my son? He’s just about the cutest thing on this farm. He makes my heart hurt in every way.

Most every night, Curt puts him to bed and they say their prayers. Sometimes I listen outside of the door. I don’t go IN because he’s still three and completely addicted to me and he would never sleep, but sometimes I listen.

Play this game with me. I’ll be Gideon and you be Dad, ok? You start the prayer and I’ll repeat after you. Imagine I have a cute, raspy voice that makes me irresistible. And, my pjs are clean but my face is dirty. And, I still have my baseball cap on. And, socks. I can’t sleep without socks on.

Now

Now

I

I

Lay

Lay

Me

Me

Down

Down

To

Sleep,

[Did your heart flutter?]

I Pray

Pway

the Lord

Lawd

my soul

mines soul

to

keep. Amen.

[I just always, always, always want to remember that.]

What was your bedtime routine as a kid?