Monday, April 15, 2013

My Daughter Bethany . . . Has Taken Things Too Far

Just over a month ago, we watched a movie called Soul Surfer that had been recommended to us by several people.  The movie is based on the true story of a young surfer named Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm in a shark attack.  After the attack Bethany went on to realize her dream of becoming a professional surfer.

Janae, who already loved surfing--her knowledge of the sport based solely on facts presented in Barbie in a Mermaid's Tale and Barbie in a Mermaid's Tale 2--quickly became obsessed with this movie.  We watched the movie several times, and also all of its bonus material--which included interviews with Bethany Hamilton and her family.  Janae started dressing in Hawaiian clothes and talking about visiting Kauai.  She started "surfing" on any surface that remotely resembled a surf board, took out two books from the library on her new idol, and joined the Bethany Hamilton fan club online.

Janae, however, didn't leave it at that.  She started pulling one of her arms into her shirt and pretending that SHE had lost an arm in a shark attack--not only at home but also in places like the airport, the park, our church, and--I found out this morning--SCHOOL. 

Last week Janae's school was having a cultural day, and Janae insisted that she was going to dress Hawaiian.  When I argued that we didn't have any Hawaiian ancestry, she said, "What about Bethany Hamilton?"  I explained that we weren't actually related to Bethany, but Janae said she had already told several people at school that we were Hawaiian (you'd think anyone who has seen me would know this isn't true--but we are talking about kindergarteners here!).

Janae ended up being sick in the night and unable to go to cultural day . . . which I guess was enough to allow for THIS to happen:

This morning I had just dropped off Ben and Janae and was walking down the hill at the school, back to the car, when another kindergarten mom struck up a conversation with me about Janae's "accident."  She told me her daughter had been telling her "what had happened to Janae" while we were on holidays.  The mom had thought the incident sounded a little too extreme, and had concluded that her daughter had just had a bad dream about Janae.  The little girl, though, had been adamant that Janae had really been hurt--so the mom asked the kindergarten teacher if something had happened to Janae (who--as I mentioned--had been away from school on Friday with the flu).  The teacher hadn't heard anything. . . .

I had an uncomfortable idea where this might be going, so I asked, "Was it about losing an arm?"

"Yes," the mom confirmed.

"In a shark attack?" I asked.

"Yes--that was exactly what my daughter said."

I then quickly explained about Soul Surfer.

Now, I know things have gone a bit too far, but I am not exactly sure what to do about it. 

A couple of days ago Ben was complaining, "I feel like Janae isn't even Janae any more--it's like she has actually turned into Bethany Hamilton." I responded by reminding Ben about when he was in kindergarten, and how he had "become" Darth Vader for what now seems like a little while.  

Both cases seemed like harmless use of childhood imagination when I made the comparison--and Bethany Hamilton is definitely a better role model than Darth Vader--but apparently Janae is having a little more trouble separating facts from fiction. 

And apparently she is a little more convincing.  Sometimes I even forget that she still has two arms :)

But something will have to be done about Janae's tall tales....

Saturday, April 6, 2013

We've Got News ... Lots and LOTS of News

A couple of months ago, we got a flier in our mailbox advertising a paper route in our neighborhood.  I looked at it twice--thinking about Ben and his unending quest to acquire Lego--then thought about trying to deliver newspapers with three little children and quickly put the notice into the recycling bin.

It seemed almost like fate when we visited my mom and dad a few days later and saw they had put the very same flier aside--thinking of Ben and his quest for Lego, too, if I remember correctly.

We took the paper home, called the number, and were hired soon afterwards to deliver the news to all of our neighbors . . . and I do mean ALL.

Ben was SO EXCITED.  He would be earning 7 cents per paper--which doesn't sound like much--but considering that we'd be distributing about 100 newspapers twice a week, this would add up to over $50 a month.  Big money for an 8-year-old!

The excitement quickly died out early on the first day of the actual job.  It was Janae's birthday, it was raining, and we had very little time to figure out what we were doing, deliver the papers, and make it back to meet our family for cake.

I had no idea what I was getting into.  I tore up all of my fingernails trying to open the cords binding the papers, I got chilled from being out in the rain, my hands were black with newsprint, and I had three children complaining the entire time we were out.  Luckily Jason was home and helped by bringing some of the papers behind us in the van (the big tub we'd planned to put the papers in was too wide for our wagon!), and to offer encouraging words like, "I'll do the other two cul de sacs." 

Fortunately, we have come a long way since that first day.  I learned to bring along a pair of scissors, and we know which houses have that beloved little "No Newspapers!" sign--which means we get to SKIP THEM!!!

I've also figured out which doorways terrify my kids (we have one spooky house nearby with Halloween decorations up all year around--and it is creepy!) and which ones have dogs.  I also know where each house's mailbox is (front door or carport) and which have separate hooks or boxes for newspapers (as opposed to actual mail).

You might have noticed that I am using the word "I" a lot, as opposed to "Ben." I should point out that Ben is actually there, too--at least physically--most of the time.  You can see in the pictures how happy he is :)

At first I thought I would "help" Ben by delivering some of the papers for him while he is at school, since Alaina finds more joy in the paper route than our other two children--especially when it's raining.

But after having a few conversations with others about the value of overcoming challenges--and learning that some of the best older boys we know also had paper routes when they were young (and now they're doing things like getting into medical school), I thought I'd better just give Ben the support he needs to perservere.

This isn't always easy.  Ben is . . . shall we say . . . a little distractable from the task at hand.  For example, we might see a cobblestone driveway, and he starts examining each stone.  Or a person might have some plastic flowers sticking out of a garden near their front door, and Ben will stop to "smell" each one.  Occasionally Ben will see a small cat or dog and try to make a new friend.  And you can imagine how long we took to deliver a paper at this place:

 Still, we carry on.  The girls sometimes help when the mailboxes are low enough to reach.

But we are lucky that Alaina still fits in the wagon . . . and that Grandma and Grandpa's house is on our route in case anyone needs a rest.

I'd been hoping that getting his first paycheque would help Ben see that all this walking and newsprint was not in vain--and when it arrived yesterday, we saw our first hint of an employment-related smile since the day we began.

When I asked Ben what he thought about the paper route now, he said, "I feel like it is worth it."

I guess that's the power of Lego :)