Adventures in Parenting

So, you know when something is so ridiculous, it’s actually funny?  I feel like I have moments like that, oh, every day as a stay-at-home mom.  Take today, for example.

What, me?  Think I'm going to cause trouble?  Yes, yes I am.
What, me? Think I’m going to cause trouble? Yes, yes I am.

Although I no longer go into the office, I still manage to do a bit of work.  This afternoon, when the kids’ naps magically overlapped for about 45 minutes, I managed to leave messages with a few people. Then, feeling pretty productive, once naptime ended I stopped by the—ahem—ladies room, with both kids in tow.  (News flash:  when you have small children, you never, never get to use the bathroom alone).

Just at that moment, what do you know, one of the people I’d phone called me back.  This was a very important call, so even though I have a strict no-phone calls-in-the-bathroom policy, I thought, “Screw it. I’ll answer.”  I picked up and, quickly excused the background noise by telling the caller I was at home with small children.  I left out the part about being on the toilet.  B-a-a-a-d idea.

I tried to rush the call, but nothing is faster than an inquisitive toddler.  Within moments, Kisan accidentally pulled something into the sink and started hollering.  He wanted it back and he wanted it back now!  I frantically motioned to him to be quiet (it didn’t work).  Unable to get off the toilet or to quiet toddler-zilla, I looked around in desperation for something to snap Kisan out of tantrum mode.  I found a plush bumblebee sitting in the baby’s lap and, panicking, I did the first thing that came to mind—I chucked it at Kisan.  No, it wasn’t my finest mommy moment.  I think I was trying to snap him out of his agitated state, sort of like slapping a hysterical person across the face.

Well, no need to judge me, because I knew it was a bad idea as soon as it left my hand.  You know when something terrible is about to happen, everything seems to slow down? Well, time now took on a movie-like quality as the plush toy slowly arced up in the air and, yep, landed with a soft “thunk” on Kisan’s head.

It was like I’d prodded a rabid dog with a stick.  Kisan’s voice rose at least five octaves.   If he could’ve foamed at the mouth, I’m sure he would have. Instead of being merely frustrated, Kisan was now incensed because, well, I’d thrown something at him.  And really, it was a dumb move on my part.  Oh, and the man on the phone?  At this point, he’d stopped talking (probably shocked into silence). So, as the last resort of the desperate, I picked Kisan up and locked him outside the door.  As I quickly stammered out an apology to the man,  Kisan (now in full Hulk mode) started to use his tow truck as a battering ram.  At this point, I just told the man I would be sending him the paperwork in an e-mail, and hung up the phone.

I’m no longer your son. Hulk SMASH!!

I probably stayed in behind the door for another minute or two, gathering the willpower to deal with the weeping and wailing small human that was now trying, heart-breakingly, to reach me from under the door, pressing his face and hands as far as they would go under the one-inch crack.  I eventually opened the door and calmed him down, and we went about our day.  I wish I could say this is a unique episode—but it isn’t.  Each day is broken up with moments like this, so many moments where I am dealing with a child who is, by turns, irritating, then amusing; angry, then gentle and kind. It’s a constant emotional rollercoaster, and at night I’m so drained I don’t even have the energy to watch a favorite show, or write a blog post, or do anything but stumble into bed.

But today was better than yesterday; and, reluctant optimist that I am, I know tomorrow will probably be a little better than today.  If I’m going to have these crazy moments, I’m glad I can at least laugh at them now—not five or ten or twenty years down the road, when I’ve forgotten how bad the bad can feel.  I want to enjoy these moments now, the moments that are so over-the-top chaotic and (quite frankly, ridiculous) that you can’t help but laugh, because, hey, they make life endurable.


Orson Scott Card Blasts Mormon Writers, Offers Hope

Orson Scott Card gave an incredibly memorable speech at the LDS Storymakers Conference last week. Like many at the Conference, I was eagerly anticipating Mr. Scott Card’s keynote speech. In our collective minds, getting writing tips from the person who not only wrote the Enders Game series, but also scripted the Hill Cumorah pageant and the Living Scriptures, was going to be a real treat, comparable only to singing with Gladys Knight, or tossing the pigskin with Steve Young.

My friend and I arrived early and found seats close to the podium. We chatted easily with the ladies near us as we watched the other tables quickly fill up with attendees. Laughter and conversation drifted across the packed room. There was a palpable feeling of excitement, a feeling that we were in for a real treat.

And it was a treat—a wickedly, wickedly delicious treat. After some preliminary advice, Mr. Scott Card wasted no time in blasting, not only some ideas the attendees may have had about writing, but aspects of LDS culture itself.

He started by saying an LDS writer should not try and preach the Gospel through writing. His advice? “If you find yourself preaching, break the pen”. At this, I sat up a little. I noticed a few women around me perk up as well, but their faces weren’t full of unbridled interest, like mine; they were clouded with doubt. A preeminent LDS writer, telling other writers not to preach? Mr. Scott Card went on to explain (paraphrased), “If you are a faithful LDS member, your beliefs should come through in your writing, without trying to preach.”

Orson Scott Card continued to state one should never ask if the work is inspired. A lot of times, writers will try to write with “the Spirit,” a colloquial LDS term describing when someone is under the influence of the Holy Spirit. He abruptly told the audience he often finds “a direct correlation between people saying their work is inspired, and how crappy it is.” At this comment, I saw the women at an adjacent table turn to each other, murmuring and glancing repeatedly at the speaker with slight disbelief on their faces. A few audience members chuckled, but I could see the worry beginning to ripple around the room. Not have the Spirit when writing your book, 100 Uses for Lard at Relief Society Luncheons? Unthinkable.

I, however, was highly amused, and continued to listen as Mr. Scott Card went on to eviscerate what he deems to be the LDS Church’s tendency to push away members who are “highly verbal readers”, particularly the youth members. He related the exclusionary activities of the “spiteful, anti-intellectual [Church] youth program,” such as participation in the Boy Scouts, with its non-literary merit badges, and basketball. It was very obvious that his experiences in the LDS youth program had negatively impacted him as a teenage intellectual. But honestly, as much as I admire his guts for saying this to a predominantly LDS crowd, I had to roll my eyes at this point—or, I would have, if I weren’t assessing the shocked faces of my co-attendees. At this point, it was obvious that Orson Scott Card had fully deflated all their hopes for a testimony-building, fireside-type address—and the hushed countenances of nearly all the women around me reflected their disillusionment.


Mr. Scott Card did offer some final comforting words for the audience. Along with advising LDS authors to avoid salacious scenes and offensive language in their writing, Orson Scott Card offered this golden counsel: if you LDS writers are the outskirts of your less-literate wards, then find your value in the Church—not as a writer, but as a volunteer. His suggestions, from personal experience, were to join the choir; set up chairs; and take out trash. This makes you part of the LDS community, and they will think you are “one of them”. Ultimately, this inclusion allows you to express yourself more freely as a writer, and you won’t be shunned for having slightly different opinions from the general group.

So this is a faithful re-telling of my experience at the keynote address for LDS Storymakers. And to be honest, it was pretty darn amusing. But do you think Orson Scott Card was right? Does the Church alienate its highly verbal readers and intellectuals? If so, why?