Seriously, Parenting is Harder Than Teaching

You wouldn’t think so. I mean, a teacher has to deal with at least 20 kids at a time, keep them in line, and edutain – I mean educate – them. But most kids maintain a little fear of their teacher. Kids will push their parents to the limit, but the majority of them want to please their teacher. Hey, being called out in front of everyone in the class is much worse than being called out my Mom in the living room in front of Little Brother.

So, today I decided to take the kids to paint pottery. I originally had the idea for each child to paint a small bowl for our home altar. We would put sand and beeswax candles in each bowl. They have this at church (more like trays than bowls) and Ephraim LOVES to light a candle every Sunday. He’s finally learned NOT to grab a handful of sand and throw it everywhere. He can light the candle himself and make the sign of the cross in the sand before sticking the candle down. However, I decided I wouldn’t push it, and I’d let the kids pick out whatever piece they wanted (within reason).

We’d never been to this place before, so when we go there one of the workers showed us around and explained everything to us. There was a $6.00 sitting fee per person, plus the cost of the ceramic pieces. I was hoping the kids would pick something between 5 and 10 dollars each. They both picked a horse. The exact same horse. Really? I don’t have anything against horses or anything, but we’re not really horse people. Neither of the kids have ever seen a horse up close or are particularly interested in them. The closest we come to being horse people is the collection of old My Little Ponies in Madeleine’s closet. But their minds were made up. Each horse was $16. Great. I picked a bowl to paint for our altar myself. $15.

Madeleine did pretty well. Ephraim’s pottery painting experience was just short of disastrous. He did not understand that he could not mix a bunch of colors or that he had to put three layers of paint on the horse. He had more fun dipping the sponge in water and getting everything on the table wet than he did painting. I literally told him to “Sit down!” at least 20 times. Note to self: 3-year olds are NOT developmentally ready for pottery painting!

When we were done, I went to the back to wash my hands and towards the back of the shop noticed a “Just for Kids” shelf. The shelf was full of smaller, $5.00 ceramic pieces with – gasp – NO sitting fees for ages 5 and under! Wait! She didn’t tell us that during the initial tour!! You mean I could have spent $5 per child instead of $21??!! I could have let each kid paint 2 items, and still spent half of what I did. When I went to pay, I complained that I had not been told about that shelf when I came in and that I could have saved a lot of money that way since my kids were 5 and under. I was told, “Well, you don’t have to paint those. You can paint any item in the room. And there are 3 and 4 dollar items all around the store. You just have to look.”

I said, “Well, she didn’t tell us that we had that option. So do I still have to pay a sitting fee for my kids?”

She looked down her nose at me and said, “Yes.”

I was boiling at this point. I bit my tongue, but I made sure to look extremely unhappy as I handed over my 66 dollars.

Next stop: Church. I decided to take the kids to Vespers tonight. It was a special Vespers for the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (the death of Mary), so Father Stephen had invited all the children to bring flowers to decorate the Bier in honor of Mary. The decorating was right before Vespers, and my kids enjoyed it and got to spend a little time with their friends. Ephraim was playing with one of his friends, and I told him that once prayers started, he had to come sit with me. He said, “Okay.”

Well, what he meant was, “I’ll say whatever I need to to get you off my back right now, but I don’t really agree.” (My husband does that too, occasionally!) The first time I took Ephraim out (after several warnings), he cried, “No! No! I’m gonna behave!” Several people who heard him chuckled, and so did I, to be honest. It was so cute. I said, “I told you when you were playing that once prayers started, you’d have to come sit with me, and you said okay.” He goes, “I not say okay.” Great. Now my 3-year-old has learned to argue with me. I’d told him I’d spank him, so I spanked him and we went back in.

The second time I took him out, he said, “Just a little spanking, Mommy! Please! Just a little one!” Unfortunately since it was his second time, I pulled his pants down to spank him, which, of course, smarts more. He was NOT happy.

We FINALLY made it through the service, but I felt like I had not gotten to enjoy – or really even hear – any of the beautiful hymns to Mary. Sometimes going to church seems useless because I’m constantly dealing with my kids.

Then I thought: I’m not really here for ME. I’m here to honor the Mother of God. I’m here to worship God. They know that I showed up with flowers and two kids in tow. (Steven’s out of town.) They know that my heart was in the right place even if my attention was more on my kids. While the hymns and chants are spiritually beneficial to me, it’s not about whether I got to really savor them. It’s about giving right praise to God, and right reverence to Mary and the saints.

Here are two hymns for the Dormition:

Troparion (Tone 1)

In giving birth, you preserved your virginity!
In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos!
You were translated to life, O Mother of Life,
And by your prayers you deliver our souls from death!

Kontakion (Tone 2)

Neither the tomb, nor death, could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life,
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb!

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