There has been a lot of water over the dam since I last wrote about my three kids. Actually, it was July 22nd when I thought maybe this was one project that I was going to have to just let go.
But I got such good advice from my Xanga friends, and there was that Holy Spirit nudging that just wouldn’t stop. So, even though I had no support from the kid’s mother when it came to taking Mya alone, I decided that unless she would let me take her alone for an evening, I wouldn’t have the three of them together here again. The little ones tried mightily to change my mind, and the Mom wouldn’t answer my phone calls on the night I was to get her, and even took the kids and left the house because “It wasn’t fair for Mya to come and not the others.” I decided that I could be stubborn, too, and I sent her word that I wanted to pick Mya up for the evening on Tuesday night and I would take her and do some school shopping. And that, unless I could get that in before the next Thursday night, the kids wouldn’t be coming. She finally agreed that I could take her, and I promised the other two that they would get their turn alone with me, too, if things could be worked out.
What a blessing this strategy has proven to be. Our church provided the money for school supplies and for one outfit a piece, and each kid got to do at least one thing special on our day out and got to choose where to eat lunch and then, if they were good, they got an ice cream cone on the way home. They could not have been better. Just perfect examples of decorum and co-operation. All three of them earned that ice cream cone fair and square.
I decided to do some specific behavior modification on the Thursday nights when the three of them are here, and that has been successful beyond what I had expected, too. I’ve been trying to plan better, trying to free the evening up from anything but engaging them in activity — whether that is working in the garden, taking rides on the golf cart, and I have even managed to get them involved in READING to them — something they have not been very interested in before. I have been careful in choosing the stories — keeping them short and exciting, and it was gratifying tonight for them to ask if they could have another one. They have also become interested in stories from when I was a little girl that I can tell them on the way home. Another positive in a time that often went to pieces.
Last Thursday, I had a very trying day, and even though I had told them earlier in the week that I thought they could come, I came early to the conclusion that I just couldn’t have them. I tried to call the mom, but there was no answer, so I texted her that I wasn’t up to having them, but that we would pick them up on Sunday morning for Sunday School. She didn’t get my message, and at 6 o’clock she and the three of them were on my doorstep. I went out and their eyes were so pleading that I almost relented and let them stay, but I hadn’t made supper and I hadn’t planned any activities for the evening, and I decided that I just couldn’t do it.
“I’m sorry, Dawn,” I said to their Mama. “I’ve had a tough day today, with our daughter leaving for college and a whole lot of activity planned for the next couple days. I would like to have them stay, but I just can’t. I hate to disappoint them, but it just doesn’t suit for me to have them tonight.”
For once, she seemed okay with that, and even though I saw the hurt in the eyes of the kids, she herded them back into the car and left. I wondered if they would come to Sunday school on Sunday, because she has sometimes said that if they don’t come on Thursday, they can’t come to church, but I decided to take the chance. I really needed those Thursday evening hours, and even though I felt guilty, I knew it was what I had to do.
Sunday Morning, Daniel went to pick them up while I finished up the last minute things here at home. He came back for me and the ladies, and as I got into the car, I said, “How’re my kids this morning?”
“Fine . . . um, Ms. Mary Ann. We have something for you.”
“For me? What do you have for me?”
The oldest fumbled with a homemade envelope in her hand and then thrust it in my direction.
“We wrote this for you,” they all chorused. I pulled out a piece of notebook paper, crumbled and folded many times. There was also a piece of notebook paper that had been carefully colored — one line pink, one line blue, one line pink, one line blue. “Ms. Mary Ann, I colored that for you,” said Muffie proudly, “And Mya wrote the note ’cause we didn’t know how to write it.”
I unfolded the paper and looked at the smudged and penciled lines. I suddenly could almost not read for the tears.
Dear Mrs. Maryann
do you know that we love you? Cause you are the best person that we ever met. And thankyou for taking us school shopping and taking us to eat lunch we really appreciate what you’ve done. We really love to go to your church and your house on Thursday nights.
Mya, LJ and Muffie.
I am so grateful to God for His blessings to me, for giving me friends who give me advice when I need it that is workable and for giving me courage to try even when it seems so hopeless. The three of them were here tonight because I have a conflict on Thursday night and the best gift of all for me was that when I realized that Thursday wasn’t going to work, I actually wanted to work something else out. And they are still busy, and they still don’t tell the truth, and I keep finding things that I need to be firm about — but I see them actually making decisions to obey me when I say something — even turning around and coming back when they are on their way to disobey, and being kind to each other when issues come up that would have sparked familial war before. I am so profoundly grateful. It makes me feel like keeping on keeping on.
And on that note, this gal is getting herself off to bed. Thank you, friends, for praying for Daniel and I and these three kids. It has truly made all the difference.