Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My little drummer boy

I think it's time to face the fact that we are entering a new phase in this parenting thing. We knew it was coming, and I'm guessing that we aren't the only ones feeling just a little out of our league in this one, but it is still a bit of a shock whenever it comes up. "It" has to do with the opposite sex; "opposite" of whichever child we are currently talking about.

For years, my children have watched my blood pressure boil when strangers and friends alike insisted on asking my preschoolers about their girlfriends and boyfriends. I know that we all have our different standards and rules when it comes to "going out" and dating, but I don't know too many people who would allow their kindergartner to go to a movie with a fellow 5 year old. More recently my children have had to listen to my rantings and ravings concerning the practice of middle school (and some elementary-aged) students "going out". Where, I ask, do your friends who are "going out" go? My children respond by looking at me with blank looks, as if I didn't know that 12 year olds can't drive themselves anywhere. As we probably all know, "going out" is not a literal thing, it's more of a state of mind. An ever-changing mind (sometimes weekly), so what's the point?

Between the moments of exceedingly high blood pressure and rants, we do enjoy many interesting conversations with our children. Sometimes the discussions get a bit awkward as we have teen conversations above the listening ears of preschoolers. HopeAnne, with her ADHD personality is never really paying close enough attention. Eden, the observer, is. Never was this more apparent than after one such conversation when Eden said, "Mom, I know a REALLY bad word. It's sax." My response? "Yes, dear. That's a REALLY bad word and it's not something you should be talking about." I am a little concerned about what will happen when she meets a sax player or sees a saxophone up close or if we go to a concert and she asks about that "J" shaped instrument, but I'm willing to cross that bridge when I get there.

Thankfully other peoples' children have given us many opportunites to watch and learn, laugh and discuss. Like the boy who has been sending Mariana love notes since 2nd grade. These are not your typical "Do you like me? Circle 'yes' or 'no'" notes but are notebook paper-length discourses on his affection for her. They also share his undying love for her while insisting, "I love you so you have to love me back." I can't imagine what type of parent encourages this type of thing in 2nd grade. I guess it could be argued that maybe his parents don't know. But if that's the case then according to his writing ability even as far back in 2nd grade, he's the next Mark Twain or Charles Dickens.

And then there are all the girls who have befriended Mariana with the larger goal of getting Andrew or Jesse to like them. That's ingenuity. It also turns the King kids off - all of them. And their parents. So don't try it. Or we will talk about you around the dinner table.

Or like the first week of 7th grade when Jesse came home from school to tell us that he had been asked out by two different posses of girls. Apparently if you are too shy to ask a guy to "go out" with you, it's standard practice to send your group of friends to do the deed. And in case you're wondering how he answered, just remember that he's been sufficiently brainwashed to know that if you are only in middle school and have no where to go, you're better off not "going out" in the first place. There was also the girl who started emailing me to ask me about our family and our church. She said it was for a school newspaper article. When I told Jesse she seemed like she needed a church family and maybe he should ask her to youth group, he smiled sheepishly and said he couldn't because she liked him.

More recently Mariana tagged along with me to a photography job at a junior and senior high camp. While eating our meal, a certain male camper came to sit with us and proceeded to tell Mariana that he likes her hair and her eyes. More specifically he likes how she expressively uses her eyes when she talks. To his credit, he also complimented Mariana's mother's eyes. Not to his credit, he mistakenly assumed that I'd be thrilled to find him hitting on my 12 year old daughter right in front of my (beautiful) eyes.

And just last week Jesse was invited to play drums for a theatre performance involving a large number of preteen and teen girls. Unbeknownst to Jesse, a 13 year old male drummer is considered a highly desirable specimen for hormone-crazed girls. It didn't take long before girls were trying to get a peek at him, tucked away behind the drum set. One staff member relayed a crazed conversation between her and a female teen trying to find out more about this young man. During a break, one of the girls who knows Jesse from a previous show made it her job to introduce enraptured girls to him. During the same break, Jesse was accosted by a group of girls, one of whom was so stricken with his hair, that she could only ramble on-and-on without making any sense. One young woman came to me and asked, "When did Jesse get so cute?" How does a mother answer this question? Hasn't he always been cute? I thought he was cute when they first put him on my chest and later when we carved a pumpkin and put him inside to introduce our new little pumpkin to the world. I also thought he was cute when he wore that princess dress and when he sang the Bunny song from Veggie Tales. I don't really think that's what she meant, though. Jesse found this all quite humorous, which is a good thing, and we had a nice, long talk on the way home.

I have, however, come to terms with the fact that this parenting job will likely turn into a mother-in-law job and quite possibly (we hope), a grandparenting job one day. It also occurred to me that that day is not as far away as it once was. I could go one extreme whereby I forbid my children to leave the house, tie them to the kitchen chairs and implant tracking devices under their skin. Or we can keep talking and I can continue to pray for each future spouse. To that end, may he or she be at least 21 years old before first meeting my child. (I know some people make this age as high as 30, particularly for their daughters, but let's be honest, I want grandkids before that! And besides, we've read Interviewing Your Daughter's Date by Dennis Rainey. We're prepared.)

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