Wednesday, August 16, 2006

One down, Six to Go

By: L.A. Kohl
Aug 13, 2006
(published in the Aug. 16, 2006 edition of "The Bull's Eye")

Well, we did it. It wasn’t easy, and it may take months (or years) to make all the adjustments, but on August 12, we took our oldest child to college.

I’ve been giving myself “pep talks” all summer long, trying to prepare for it. When she left this summer to spend six weeks working at an orphanage in Guatemala, I kept telling myself, “It’s okay – you’ve still got six more children here at home.”

That argument didn’t work very well. Saying that there were still six more at home was kind of like cutting off a thumb and saying, “It’s okay, I’ve still got nine more fingers.”

So as I tried to prepare myself for this college phase of life, I gave myself some different pep talks. Things like, “It’s okay – it’s a great school with lots of like-minded teachers and students.” Or this one, “She’s got a great ‘head on her shoulders’, and she’s excited and ready for this.”

But it still didn’t work. She might have been ready, but even after all my pep talks to self, I don’t think I was ready.

Each child is such a unique and irreplaceable part of a whole. And no matter how many of us there are, there is now a hole in our whole that we call the Kohl family. No matter how big or little your “whole” family may be, you know that when even just one is missing, there’s a hole that no one or nothing else can replace.

And yet, amidst my sorrow of watching that first one leave the nest, I find myself experiencing moments when I feel a sense of joy and anticipation. When I think of it realistically, I know I would not want her to stay home indefinitely – to always feel obligated to be a part of our home. I’m looking forward to getting to know the new friends she’ll make at college, seeing her explore her options as far as college classes and activities are concerned, and yes – watching her get swept off her feet someday by a young man that will treasure her even more than we do. (If I said that last part to her face, she’d blush and say, “Oh, MOooom!” But moms just can’t help it, can we? We all want a “happily-ever-after” for our special little princess.)

Thus, I have to pick myself up out of my first-one-left-the-nest melancholy, and try to look forward to many new phases and experiences that the future will bring.

Isn’t that what we all have to do at different times in life? Getting through all the various aspects and chapters of life, enjoying each and every moment as much as possible, but not trying to hold on to those moments for too long and too tightly? Instead, we must look forward to the moments that are yet to come.
“…but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13b

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Out of the Mouths of Babes

By: L.A. Kohl
July 29, 2006
(published in the Aug 2, 2006 edition of "the bullseye")
For lack of anything deep, moving, or reflective to write this week; I’ll fall back on my old stand-by. Judging from the comments I receive, the funny things that little kids say and do seems to entertain several of you…so here you go.

Our seven year old has been figuring out some personal, spiritual things lately. In fact, she’s going to be baptized in a few short days. But a few months ago, she came to me and said this out-of-the-blue statement:

“I know God is always by my side – but I just don’t know WHICH side!”

It was one of those moments when I knew she was being completely serious, but it took every bit of self-control on my part not to laugh out loud.

And then there are the statements that you’d really prefer not to hear. Our newly turned five year old walked into the house a few days ago, and made this comment to a big sister who happened to be sitting nearby:

“I petted Katie (our cat) and she is really fat – I think she must have babies inside. How do the babies get in there?”

Oh brother…the big sister said something like, “umm – you should probably ask mom," while mom hid in a corner of the kitchen, intently studying a recipe book and wishing that her dad would walk in right now!

Then, there is the “boy” of the house. He’s only three, so he’s in his prime. He loves to be helpful, and he is almost always the first child to wake in the morning. One morning dad thought he’d put this helpful, early riser to work by telling him that he could put the cereal bowls on the table. Dad explained that he could find the bowls in the cupboard by the table, or in the dishwasher.

The boy enthusiastically ran out of the room, and said, “OK! I’ll get the bowls out of the

(Umm – and while you’re at it – get the milk out of the dishwasher??? Maybe needs some work on his listening skills!)

One thing that I love about him is his polite little spirit. I don’t know if it’s all these big sisters he’s got surrounding him, or the influence of a great dad, or a little bit of both – but he can melt his old mom really quick with his sweetness.

The other day I had taken the three young ones down to our lake for swimming. Usually it’s their Dad who indulges them, but he wasn’t around and they had been begging and begging. So, I told them “just for a little while," donned an old swimsuit, and hiked down to the lake with all three of them. We played around for half an hour or so, and then I started telling them it was time to go back to the house.
I climbed out, hoping they would follow my example, but they were still too busy playing. I was drying off and re-iterating that we really needed to get back to the house, when the boy stopped what he was doing, looked up at me, and said, “Mom, you sure are cute…thanks for taking us swimming!” and then he went right back to splashing and playing.

I seriously believe he was sincere with his comments, and not just trying to butter me up. So you parenting experts will just have to overlook and forgive my reply to him:
“Oh, well, I guess we can stay down here a little bit longer.”