"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

~Robert Frost

Friday, April 2, 2010

On Putting Out Fires....

We were all taught the little catch phrase when we were little, probably before our 5th birthday. I remember a homeschool fire station field trip of some kind, where a burly fireman with kind eyes and a mustache lifted me onto the high step of the fire truck and had me repeat it after him: "Stop, drop, and roll." We've all heard it so many times, and we know that is what we're supposed to do to put out a fire on ourselves.

So what if it's not our clothes, but rather our emotions that are going up in flames?? You know the days: every little thing has gone wrong, from the moment you swung your bare feet out of bed onto the freezing cold floor, to the Starbucks barista completely leaving out the flavoring in your vanilla latte (which really, there ought to be some sort of prosecution option for this because there are no words for the bitter disappointment that results!!), to the ketchup bottle exploding in your hands and painting 2/3 of your kitchen bright red (this one is hypothetical. really.), to the moment you finally thump your weary head onto the pillow late at night -- only to discover that your children decided sometime during the day that it would be great fun to stuff your pillowcase with hard plastic play food. On days like those, sometimes it feels like your emotions have become so volatile that one more little spark of unpleasantness will unleash an inferno inside you.

As the stay at home mom of one year old, two year old, and three year old daughters, I have become pretty familiar with fiery emotions. Let's just say there is a lot of estrogen in our house. When I think about the years to come when all three of them are in the midst of teenage hormones, I can actually feel my blood pressure rising. I don't know how we will put out the emotional flames that try to attack us during those years, but for now I tackle them using our own modified catch phrase: "Stop, drop, and sing!" Yes, when the heat is rising around here I'll literally grab my girlies, pull them into a circle with me right on the floor, and we'll launch into song. I got the idea from my mum, and you know what? At these ages, at least, there are few fires that cannot be put out by a well timed chorus of Jesus Loves the Little Children, or The Wheels on the Bus. Sometimes we'll throw some Ring Around the Rosies or Hokey Pokey in there too. It really helps the girls and myself equally, and we've diffused many a fiery situation by taking the time to stop, drop, and sing.

Well, it's always a good feeling when you realize your children are watching you and learning from you....

So this afternoon I entered the girls' room to find they had taken their dozen or so brand new wooden puzzles from my mum, and shoved every single piece from every single puzzle under Hannah's bed. We're talking maybe 150 puzzle pieces here. All pushed to the far wall under the bed and promising an annoyingly long sorting and replacing time. As I took stock of the situation, Ashley took one look at my irritated face and grabbed her sisters' hands, declaring anxiously,

"Ok, now we're going to sing If You're Happy and You Know It!"


  1. Ashley is too much! I love it. :o) I remember singing growing up, and lately when we have pouty faces, or when something happens that puts us in a sad mood (me or the kids!) I tell them it's time sing. E dances, L belts it out with me, and life takes on a much happier note. ;o)

  2. Haha...exactly! Makes them happy to sing, and makes you happy to watch them being so silly. ;-)

  3. Singing with the kids is great! Music is a great way - even in their teens to get through and stay in touch with them.
    Great idea for sorting puzzle pieces (for next time) - stamp or draw a different shape, letter, number, or whatever, on each different puzzle. That way you can flip it over, match the pieces, and see which puzzle it goes to. Doesn't help for this time - sorry!