Our family seems to always have some motto or tagline, a rule, or some saying that seems to stick and become a part of us.
Like our title of ‘Team Schalow’ … this came about when Ava was just a baby. It has always been our way of getting the kids on board with what we’re doing … whether they need redirecting or we are celebrating something. We all put our hands in the middle and say “teeeeeeam schaaallooooow.” I suppose similar to a sports team, it just reminds us that our family functions best with a collective effort. This is by no means original, I’m sure many other families do this same thing.
Then there are our ‘family rules’ which are a pretty basic list of things encompassing safety, respect, etc. The #1 rule: NO yelling. There is nothing I hate more than yelling. So many times I’ve seen parents yell at their kids for things that are really just normal things that kids do, and often the cause is lack of attention or boredom. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for everything, I just don’t believe that yelling should be a regular parenting tactic. As a note, I’m by no means the perfect parent, I’ve yelled … sometimes for good reason, and sometimes because I’m trying too hard to get things done and not doing a good job of being a parent. But everyday we work together to live this rule.
Another useful one that’s worked well is “turn it around.” A few years ago we struggled with how to handle bad attitudes. We would always say, let’s try to turn it around … in an effort to get attitudes back on track. This one didn’t work well until we added the physical portion, we would make the kids stand-up and actually turn around in a circle, and by the time they made it around they’d have to have a smile and new attitude. Of course at first they’d fight it and say no, but with a bit of coaxing it would turn into a game. You know, sort of like the “don’t you smile” phrase to get kids to smile for pictures?!
After we got the news that we were moving to Grenada we started doing our homework. We’d heard about “island time” and, just like anytime you move, we knew things would be different. So, the night before we left we decided our new family motto was going to be ‘roll with it‘. Man, we’ve sure had our spirit tested with this one …
For the first few weeks, roll with it just meant that – going out to dinner would take twice as long – the woman scanning your groceries might turn around and have a personal conversation with another employee in the middle of scanning your groceries while you stand there patiently waiting – the car in front of you might stop in the middle of the roundabout to wait for the person, who is still a block away, to walk up and get in the car – none of the groceries stores have milk – the windows of your P.O.S. car may or may not work depending on which doors are unlocked and whether or not your sending them enough positive thoughts – it would unexpectedly start pouring in the middle of the day when you have two loads of laundry hanging on the clothes line – as you can see, these things are minor annoyances. Roll with it …
And then came week #3 in Grenada. A.K.A. Chris’ first week of medical school.
Tuesday, January 22nd (Chris’ first full day of class): I’m at home doing everything I can to have an awesome dinner on the table for when Chris arrives home from his first day of school, so, I attempt to start the oven. You see, here in Grenada you don’t just turn a knob or press buttons to start your oven. Instead, you open your gas tank, open the stove door, light a match and reach your hand in. Normally it lights … well not this time. This time the first match doesn’t do it, so I take a second and before I can even get my hand near the pilot hole BOOM, the loudest bang you’ve ever heard. Enough to make the kids scream and wake up the baby. The match ends up in the living room and there is black dust everywhere. I instruct everyone to get out of the house, of course not knowing what the problem was. As we’re standing outside the pain starts … I look down and see the soggy burnt skin that’s left on my fingers. I have a wonderful group of friends and within minutes they were here helping. I knew Chris would be done with class in just 15 minutes, so I sat there with my hand under cold water and waited. It felt like 2 hours. Instead of coming home to a nice calm house and yummy dinner on his first day of school, he got to rush home and take me to the clinic with 3 hungry kids in tow. Roll with it ….
Wednesday, January 23rd: I’m just about to sit down and eat my lunch when my cell phone rings … it’s school. “Cooper fell on the concrete and broke his tooth.” WHAT?! Memo to the Schalow’s: You’re in a foreign country, pull it together!! I arrive to find Cooper missing his front left tooth, a huge bloody top lip, and concerned that the tooth fairy isn’t going to come because he didn’t lose his tooth properly. Roll with it …
P.S. Cooper’s concerns were unfounded, the tooth fairy still comes when you knock a tooth out.
Saturday, January 26th: We head to campus nice and early to drop Chris off so he can hammer out his first full day of studying. So, it’s early on a Saturday morning and the kids and I are still in our PJ’s, I haven’t even brushed my hair, I don’t grab my diaper bag (not even a nuk) … as I’m pulling out of my driveway, this combination of things crosses my mind as a set-up for failure. We’re 67 seconds from campus and the car comes to a rolling stop, I attempt to restart it, nothing … Roll with it??
They say it comes in three’s … well, they’re wrong.
Friday, February 1st: My hand is feeling much better, Cooper’s lip is totally healed, the car is back in our driveway and once again in working order (well if you can call it that) … it’s a beautiful Friday afternoon. The kids are playing in the yard and the baby just went down for a nap. I’m about to grab a Carib and head outside by the kids, but … I hear yelling. Then I realize it’s coming from the yard, I run to the back door to see our neighbors brush pile engulfed in flames and the woman who helps our landlord around the house, is running for my hose. After 10 minutes of attempting to put out the fire, we called the fire department. Shockingly, they arrived in less than 5 minutes! Roll with it …
So, did our roll with it motto help us get through this? No. Did it give us something funny to say to lighten the mood after each minor emergency. Yes. Are we all still smiling? Yes. And we were through each incident, because at the end of the day, we’re all alive, healthy and … a, oh, we live in PARADISE. Are we fully and completely exercising our new motto? Ab-so-frickin-lutely.